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HISTDRYOFTHE6I 

CAALRY BRIGADE 

1914-1918 




BY LIEUTENANT J.B.BICKERSTETH. M.C. 

WITH FOREWORD ET 
FIELD MARSHAL SIR DOUGLAS HAIG. 
K.T.. G.C.B.. O.M.. G.CVQ. KG.I.E.. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

University of Toronto 



http://www.archive.org/details/historyof6thcava00bick 



HISTORY OF THE 6tH 
CAVALRY BRIGADE 

1914-1919 

BY LIEUTENANT J^B. BICKERSTETH, M.C. 
1ST ROYAL DRAGOONS, S.R. 

WITH FOREWORD BY 
FIELD-MARSHAL SIR DOUGLAS HAIG 
K.T., G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O., K.C.I.E. 
COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OF THE BRITISH 
ARMIES IN FRANCE. DEC, 191 5 -APRIL, 19 19 




THE BAYNARD PRESS (SANDERS 
PHILLIPS & CO., LIMITED), 6 & 8 
UPPER THAMES STREET, E.C. 4 



•54- 

&S3 



CONTENTS 




PAGE 


Formation of the Brigade i 


First Battle of Ypres . 






4 


Second Battle of Ypres 






23 


Loos 






36 


The Hohenzollern Redoubt 






43 


The Somme 






48 


Arras 






ss 


Epehy and The Birdcage 






61 


Vadencourt and Tertry . 






68 


The German Offensive . 






77 


Villers Bretonneux 






90 


The Allied Offensive 






102 


Honnechy 






109 


The Armistice 






117 


The Break-up of the Brigade 






120 



PHOTOGRAPHS OF GENERALS 

1— BRIGADIER-GENERAL E. MAKINS, C.B., D.S.O. COMMANDED 
THE 6TH CAVALRY BRIGADE. SEPTEMBER, i 9 i 4 _NOVEMBER, 191+. 

r r r - t - * t 

2— BRIGADIER -GENERAL D. G. M. CAMPBELL. COMMANDED 

THE 6TH CAVALRY BRIGADE. NOVEMBER, 1914— MAY, 19 16. 

/ t * r t 

3— BRIGADIER -GENERAL A. E. W. HARMAN, C.B., D.S.O. COM- 
MANDED THE 6TH CAVALRY BRIGADE. MAY, 19 16— MARCH, 191 8. 

, r ' ' ' ' 1 

4— BRIGADIER - GENERAL A. G. SEYMOUR, D.S.O. COMMANDED 
THE 6TH CAVALRY BRIGADE. MARCH, 1918 — AUGUST, 1918 

1 1 * 1 1 1 1 1 

5— BRIGADIER-GENERAL EWING PATERSON, D.S.O. COMMANDED 
THE 6TH CAVALRY BRIGADE. AUGUST, 1918 — MARCH, 1919. 



LIST OF MAPS 

1. Movements of 3rd Cavalry Division, 8th October-20th October, 1914. 

2. Position of 3rd Cavalry Division on 21st October, 1914, and following 

days. 

3. Illustrating period, 19th October-iyth November, 19 14. 

4. Illustrating positions of 6th Cavalrv Brigade, 13th and 14th May, 1915. 

5. Position held by Brigade at Loos, 25th-26th September, 19 15. 

6. Showing trenches held at Hohenzollern Redoubt in January and 

February, 191 6. 

7. Showing position held at Arras on nth April, 191 7. 

8. Showing sector held near Epehy and the Birdcage, May and June, 191 7 

9. Showing sector held near Vadencourt and Le Verguier, December, 191 7, 

and January, 191 8: and area over which ' C ' Battery fought, 21st- 
26th March, 191 8. 

10. Showing area of Mounted and Dismounted operations, March, 191 8. 

11. Illustrating charge of Composite Squadron near Villeselve, March, 1918. 

12. Illustrating operations near Villers Bretonneux, 4th and 5th April, 191 S. 

13. Illustrating operations east of Amiens, 8th-ioth August, 191 8. 

14. Illustrating capture of Honnechy and Reumont, 9th October, 1918. 

15. Showing series of battles leading up to the Armistice. 



FOREWORD 

r § J HIS straightforward account of the doings of the 6th 

-*■ Cavalry 'Brigade, which saw service on the Western 
Front from the fall of ^Antwerp to the signing of the ^Armistice, 
will appeal not only to those connected with the Brigade, but to 
all who are interested in the future of Cavalry, 
d/fs a faithful description of the varied nature of wor\ that 
cavalry were called upon to perform, it should help to dispel any 
lingering impression that the cavalry soldier had an unduly easy 
time on the Western Front. By the account it gives of the 
several actions in which the Brigade did work which only 
cavalry could have undertaken it emphasises the view, which I 
myself hold, that cavalry have still a very important part to 
play in war. 

The book shows that from the First Battle of Tpres until the 
victory on the Sambre the Brigade took part in a long succession 
of important actions ; and that when it was not engaged in 
battle its personnel, in addition to maintaining themselves in a 
high state of efficiency as cava by men, were required at different 
times to carry out most of the duties of infantrymen. It shows 
also that on occasions such as the brilliant mounted charge at 
Villesehe in March, 191 8, and later in the same battle at 
Villers Bretonneux when rapidity of movement was of paramount 
and vital importance, cavalry have a definite advantage over 



FOREWORD 

any other arm. The rapid exploitation by the cavalry of the 

success of our infantry attack on the 8M October south of 

Cambrai is another case in point. 

In writing these few words of comment, therefore, at the opening 

of this account of the actions of one Cavalry Brigade, I pay 

tribute to all who saw service as cavalry soldiers in France and 

Flanders. 




4 * 7 4 

FIELD ZMJRSHJL. 



INTRODUCTION 



' HIS BOOK is a simple unvarnished narrative of 
the chief events in the history of the 6th Cavalry 
Brigade from September, 19 14, to March, 19 19. 
A Brigade is too large a formation to allow of the 
inclusion of personal anecdotes about individual 
officers and men. These will no doubt find their 
place in regimental histories. But the 6th Cavalry Brigade, which 
throughout the war always consisted of three out of the same four 
regiments, possessed a distinct corporate life. 

The Royal Dragoons and the 10th Royal Hussars went to 
Flanders together in October, 19 14. A month later they were 
joined by the 3rd Dragoon Guards. The North Somerset 
Yeomanry followed on 1 ^th November, 19 14. For a few days 
all four regiments were in the Brigade together. Then the 
10th Royal Hussars were transferred to the 8th Cavalry Brigade, 
but remained in the 3rd Cavalry Division. From this date for 
over three years the 6th Cavalry Brigade consisted of the 
3rd Dragoon Guards, The Royal Dragoons, and the North 
Somerset Yeomanry. 

In March, 19 18, shortly before the German offensive, it was 
decided to dismount a certain number of Yeomanry regiments and 
the North Somerset Yeomanry were withdrawn for this purpose. 
The 10th Royal Hussars returned to the 6th Cavalry Brigade in 
their place. Three weeks later, when continuous fighting (mounted 
and dismounted) had caused heavy casualties in the Brigade, the 
North Somerset Yeomanry came back as re-inforcements. Their 
regiment was broken up and their officers, N.C.O.s and men were 
distributed among the 3rd Dragoon Guards, the Royals and the 
10th Hussars. The cheerfulness and loyalty with which this order 
was carried out by all ranks of the North Somerset Yeomanry is 
worthy of record in the history of a great regiment. 

VII 



INTRODUCTION 

" C " Battery, R.H.A., served with the Brigade throughout the 
war, as also did the 6th Cavalry Field Ambulance, and with the 
exception of the first few weeks the 13th Mobile Veterinary Section. 
The 6th Machine Gun Squadron was formed early in 191 6 and 
remained in the Brigade until both were broken up in March, 19 18. 

It was felt, therefore, that a short account of the Brigade as 
a whole would be of interest and value — of interest to those who 
took part in the events recorded, of value in after years to the more 
serious historian. Books giving personal reminiscences or 
individual experiences of the war have been countless. As a true 
description of what happened they are often inaccurate and mis- 
leading. In the following pages no attempt has been made at 
descriptive writing. Facts stated as accurately as possible speak 
for themselves. Adjutants and all senior officers concerned have 
had opportunity of reading this narrative at an earlier stage. My 
thanks are due to them and to Lieutenant J. F. Houstoun-Boswall 
for valuable help. The maps have been prepared by me from 
those used in action. For permission to make use of the original 
sketches from which Maps 1 and 2 have been coloured I am indebted 
to Messrs. Thomas Nelson and Sons. If 19 18 claims a larger space 
than other years, this is explained by the complicated character of 
the fighting during the first five days of the German offensive in 
March, 19 18, when the Brigade was divided up into so many 
different units, necessitating a separate account of each. 

From the earliest days of the war critics of the cavalry have 
been neither few nor silent. In the minds of a large section of 
the public there is the conviction that modern war rules out the 
mounted man and that cavalry warfare as practised, for instance, at 
the battles of Blenheim, Dresden, or even Rezonville is a thing of 
the past. Spurs, it is maintained, are as prehistoric as the bow and 
arrow. Such critics are ready enough to recognise the great achieve- 
ments of our mounted forces during the retreat to the Marne, the 
advance to the Aisne, in Palestine, Mesopotamia or elsewhere. But 

VIII 



INTRODUCTION 

they are under the impression that at any rate on the Western Front, 
since the day when trench warfare began, cavalry have done nothing 
except look after their horses in back areas. It is possible that the 
bare record of what has been accomplished by a Cavalry Brigade 
which did not cross the channel till after the battle of the Aisne 
may help to dispel this mistaken view. 

It would be probably true to say that during the war the cavalry- 
man was on the whole the best trained all-round soldier in the British 
Army. He could use a bayonet and he could throw bombs. His 
musketry was of a high standard. He was proficient in the use of his 
automatic rifle. He had his own machine gun squadrons. On 
many occasions he took his place in the front line and knew that 
he was often called upon to do so when the situation was critical. 
In a word he was capable of performing and constantly did perform 
all the duties of the infantryman. Between the periods of fighting 
he was employed on constructing railway tracks, making roads, or 
digging reserve trench systems. He was lent to this Army and to 
that to perform whatever task was most needed. He was expected 
to be ready at short notice to fight as a mounted man, and his training 
as a cavalryman continued though often under great difficulties. 
He was taught to ride his horse and to look after it. He knew 
how to use his sword and was ready for shock action. 

There was a time when the training of " Dragoons " to fight 
on horseback was judged absurd. But the war has proved the value 
of trained cavalry who can be used with equal effect as cavalry, 
as a mobile reserve, or in an emergency as infantry pure and simple. 
Examples of the employment of cavalry in all these three capacities 
are to be found in the history of the 6th Cavalry Brigade. 

One of the most brilliant purely cavalry exploits of the war 
stands to the credit of this Brigade. On 24th March, 19 18, 
a composite squadron consisting of one troop each from the 
3rd Dragoon Guards, The Royal Dragoons, and the 10th Royal 
Hussars was ordered to attack a large body of German infantrv who, 

IX 



INTRODUCTION 

supported by machine guns, were holding a position in the open 
near the village of Villeselve, a few miles South of Ham. The 
primary object of the attack was to restore confidence to our infantry 
who for three days had been retiring before overwhelming forces 
of the enemy. A secondary object was the extrication of the 
remnants of two battalions who were almost surrounded at Cugny. 
The charge was made over six hundred yards of open ground in the 
face of determined machine gun and rifle fire, both from the front 
and from the flank. The last two hundred yards was over plough. 
The enemy far from being demoralised had been taking part in a 
victorious advance for several days. In spite of these facts the 
charge met with complete success. As soon as the Germans saw 
the British cavalry advancing with drawn swords and heard the men 
cheering, their resistance wavered. Nearly a hundred Germans 
were sabred, one hundred and seven were taken prisoners, and three 
machine guns were either captured or destroyed. Our infantry 
followed up the cavalry immediately and re-occupied the ground 
which had been lost. The two battalions were able to withdraw 
and reform. 

Other equally brilliant examples of what has been effected by 
the resolute and skilful handling of cavalry are to be found in the 
daring capture of Cayeux Wood by the 8 th Cavalry Brigade on 
8th August, 19 1 8, and in the taking of Montigny, Troisvilles, and 
other villages by the Canadian Cavalry Brigade in the advance to 
Le Cateau on 9th October, 19 18. 

During the war there have been numerous examples of the 
employment of cavalry as a mobile reserve. Throughout the 
fighting of October and November, 19 14, the 6th Cavalry Brigade 
was seldom used in any other capacity. Regiments moved up 
mounted to the threatened point, the horses were sent back, and 
every available rifle was put into the line. 

But perhaps the most outstanding example of the use of 
cavalry as a mobile reserve occurred on 4th April, 191 8. Early 



INTRODUCTION 

on that morning in the neighbourhood of Villers Bretonneux two 
brigades of the 14th Division were completely overwhelmed by a 
heavy German attack. The 6th Cavalry Brigade, two regiments 
of which had bivouacked the night in the Bois L'Abbe and the third 
at Fouilloy, was ordered to restore the situation. The three 
regiments with their machine guns on pack moved up at a fast pace 
and within a few minutes of leaving their bivouac reached the line 
they had been ordered to hold. The horses were sent back and 
our men immediately engaged the enemy with rifles and machine 
guns. The Germans who till then were coming on unopposed in 
large numbers were completely held up. Villers Bretonneux was 
entirely undefended from the North-east until the cavalry arrived. 
The loss of even a few minutes would have resulted in its capture. 
Had the Germans gained a firm footing in Villers Bretonneux and 
in the Bois L'Abbe which crowns the ridge to the West of the 
villag-e, Amiens would have lain at their feet and the whole course 
of the war might have been changed. It was a case for mounted 
troops alone. Lorries carrying infantry could never have lived 
on the only available roads, which were being heavily shelled, and 
infantry moving up on foot (with machine gunners carrying their 
Vickers guns) could not possibly have been in time to save the 
catastrophe. 

It is unnecessary to enlarge on the frequent occasions on which 
cavalry were entirely separated from their horses and put into the 
trenches as infantry. Sometimes this occurred at a time of great 
emergency. It would be impossible, for instance, to over-estimate 
the value of the magnificent defence put up by the dismounted men 
of the 6th Cavalry Brigade in the Ypres salient on 13th May, 1915* 
It was one of the blackest, thouo-h one of the most glorious, 
days in the history of the Brigade. Half buried early in the morning 
as a result of the terrific bombardment, almost surrounded as the 
day wore on by hugely superior forces of the enemy, our men beat 
off every attack and throughout a day of unparalleled strain yielded 

xr 



INTRODUCTION 

not one inch of ground. Again, during the first days of the German 
offensive in March, 191 8, the Brigade fought dismounted for six 
days in the neighbourhood of Chauny and did invaluable work. 

At various intervals, also, throughout the war, the cavalry took 
over a sector of the front for some weeks. Their organisation and 
equipment was entirely different from those of the infantry. They 
therefore evolved their own, and whether on the defensive or 
offensive were adept in all that pertains to trench warfare. These 
periods in the trenches and the absence of large numbers of the 
men on digging parties threw heavy work on those who remained 
in billets, and it became a matter of great difficulty to keep horses 
and equipment in good condition. Preparations for mounted 
operations had sometimes to be made at short notice, when perhaps 
two thirds of the men had been away from their horses for many 
weeks. The rapidity with which the Brigade could convert itself 
from cavalry into infantry or from infantry into cavalry is a proof 
of the adaptability of the cavalryman to all circumstances. 

The experiences of the war prove that trench warfare may very 
quickly develop into open fighting. It has often been pointed out 
how far-reaching must have been the effect if, during the latter days 
of March, 19 18, the Germans had possessed several well-trained 
and well-mounted cavalry divisions. The theory that observation 
from the air has taken the place of cavalry reconnaissance is denied 
by none so emphatically as the airman himself. Information of 
certain kinds can only be obtained by mounted troops. 

In a word, however great the scientific developments of the 
future may be, it is difficult to conceive of conditions of warfare 
when cavalry reconnaissance will not be needed, when shock action 
used at the right moment will not produce solid tactical results as 
well as great moral effect, and when at times of crisis dismounted 
action by the cavalry will not prove of immeasurable value. 

The truth is that in a real emergency cavalry can always be 
converted into infantrv. The reverse is far from being true. 

J. B. B. 

XII 



h istory of the 

6th 
cavalry brigade 



CHAPTER I 

FORMATION OF THE BRIGADE 



/ 1 1 HE history of the Brigade begins with the arrival 19 14 

or* The Royal Dragoons (Lieut. -Colonel F. G. Steele) 
and the 10th Royal Hussars (Lieut. -Colonel 
R. W. R. Barnes, D.S.O.) at Ludgershall during the 
latter part of September, 19 14. When the war 
broke out both regiments were at Potchefstroom in 
South Africa, where it so happened that they had been training 
together for two years. The short time spent on Salisbury 
Plain before the departure for Flanders was fully occupied 
in completing men, horses and transport to strength. There 
were a large number of time-serving soldiers in each regiment 
so that few reservists were required. The 3rd Dragoon Guards 
nominally formed part of the Brigade, but their sailing from 
Egypt had been delayed. 

Brigadier-General E. Makins, D.S.O., who had recently finished 
his time as Colonel of The Royal Dragoons, arrived to take over 
command on 21st September, Major B. D. Fisher (17th Lancers) 
being Brigade Major and Captain H. Boyd-Rochfort (21st Lancers) 
Staff Captain. Major Lord C. M. Nairne, M.V.O. (Royals) and 
Captain J. J. de Knoop (Cheshire Yeomanry) were attached to 
Brigade Headquarters as French and German interpreters 



FORMATION OF THE BRIGADE 

1 9 14 respectively. Lieutenant A. Peyton (nth Hussars) was A.D.C. 
Captain Corfield (A.S.C.) was Supply Officer and Captain Towson 
(9th Leinsters) Brigade Transport officer. 

Both the Royals and the 10th Hussars had brought their horses 
with them from South Africa, and there was considerable discussion 
as to whether they should be exchanged for English horses. Lord 
Kitchener sent for General Makins personally and suggested 
mounting both regiments on horses to be drawn from the Yeomanry. 
General Makins strongly maintained the South African ponies were 
well trained and wiry and would quickly come round after the 
voyage and become acclimatised. It was finally determined to keep 
them — a decision which proved to be fully justified, because the South 
African ponies throughout the war kept their condition far better 
than English horses. As however there were not enough South 
African ponies to mount the regiments when at full strength, 
deficiencies were made up from the South Wales and South Midland 
Mounted Brigades. These horses varied considerably in quality, 
but on the whole were a sound lot. 

On 28th September, H.M. the King inspected the Brigade at 
Tidworth. The Royals were mounted on their African ponies, and 
the 10th Hussars marched past on foot with naked swords, their 
scabbards having been sent to the armourer to be " dulled." 

On 4th October the 6th Signal Troop was formed with Captain 
W. H. J. St. L. Atkinson (Royals) as Brigade Signalling officer. 
The 6th Cavalry Field Ambulance, under command of Major 
W. H. S. Nickerson, V.C., R.A.M.C., had already been formed 
during September and drew medical equipment a few days before 
leaving Ludgershall. Captain H. A. Ronn was the first officer to 
join the 6th C.F.A. At a later date he was attached to the 
3rd Dragoon Guards and was the only doctor to remain in the 
Brigade throughout the war. 



FORMATION OF THE BRIGADE. 

Early on 6th October the Brigade entrained, the Royals 19 14 
at Amesbury and the 10th Hussars at Tidworth. Most of 
the mobilisation equipment and all the G. S. limbered wagons 
had only arrived the previous day, and it was a matter of consider- 
able difficulty to get harness fitted and other preparations made in 
time. The Brigade embarked at Southampton. As the ships had 
to be filled to their utmost capacity and the embarkation authorities 
were not concerned about different units but only numbers, the. 
troops were thoroughly mixed up. The headquarters of the 
6th Cavalry Brigade were on the S.S. "Algerian " with Lord 
Hugh Grosvenor's squadron of the 1st Life Guards, while 
the headquarters of the 7th Cavalry Brigade were with a squadron 
of the 10th Hussars. The 3rd Cavalry Division filled fourteen 
transports, which early on the 7th were escorted to Dover, and then 
to the Downs. Here the convoy waited till dark, when it steamed 
under an escort of twelve destroyers to Ostend and Zeebrugge, 
arriving orT the coast about 1.0 a.m. on the morning of the 8th. 
The greatest care had to be taken in crossing the Channel, as the 
convoy had to pass through an intricate mine field. During the day 
the Brigade disembarked and camped on the Ostend race course, 
being joined by headquarters and two squadrons of the Royals, who 
marched from Zeebrugge (see Map 1 facing page 4). 

It is interesting to recall that on 17th May, 181c, the Royals 
landed at Ostend to take part in the campaign which ended at 
Waterloo. 



CHAPTER II. 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 



f HE 3rd Cavalry Division, which consisted of the 6th 
and 7th Cavalry Brigades (the latter commanded by 
Brigadier-General C. T. McM. Kavanagh, C.V.O., C.B., 
D.S.O., and composed of the 1st and 2nd Life Guards 
and Blues), was under Major-General Hon. J. H. G. 
Byng, C.B., M.V.O. On embarkation the division was only five 
cavalry regiments and one Royal Horse Artillery battery (" K ") 
strong. Together with the 7th Infantry division under Major- 
General T. Capper, C.B., D.S.O., it formed the nucleus of 
the 4th Corps, which was commanded by Major-General Sir H. S. 
Rawlinson, Bt., C.V.O., C.B. 

As soon as it appeared certain that Antwerp could not hold out, 
it was decided that these two divisions should cover the retirement 
of the Belgian army through Bruges and Ghent, and then with the 
Belgians and certain French troops hold the line of the Yser against 
Von Beseler's army. The 7th Division, which had disembarked at 
Zeebrugge two days before the 3rd Cavalry Division, was at Ghent 
on 8th October. Antwerp fell the following day and the Belgian 
retirement began, the 7th Division acting as rear-guard and the 
cavalry covering the flank from which an attack might be expected. 
On 9th October orders were received to entrain at noon for 
Ecloo, but this was subsequently cancelled and at 1.30 p.m. the 
Brigade marched towards Bruges and billeted in villages South-west 
of the town, Brigade headquarters being at the Hotel Du Cheval 
Pie in Bruges. The march was long and tedious, as the roads were 
blocked with retiring Belgian troops and with refugees, motors and 
traffic of all kinds. 

"Map 3, facing pag;e 18, shows the area over which the 6th Cavalry Brigade was 
operating throughout the First Battle of Ypres. 



Map to show movements of 3rd Cavalry Division from October 8th— October 20th, 19 14 



ZeebrugM^^ 





BRUCES 



Dixmude 



Thou rout 







Forest of "MWfiuIsc 



J> 



Roulers 12^ 



Bixschoore© p n<0 1--, ^TT ' /9 rf , 

aL Koeicapeiie/i' ©Iseghem 

^^ r ©Passchendaele id* 
$Q OZonnebeke If* 

YPRESc^J^ 

7 , / jSOGheluvelt/3^ 
ZandevoordeQ 

//^* O #MENIN 

Kemmel// Werw.ck 

Armenrieres 
O 



ANTWERP 



v 
V 



•\ 



D/recf/on 0/ off oca or Von 3esp/i>r's G>r/>J, 
covenng oc/i/once of /our enf/re/y /res A corps. 

• GHENT 



•fit*** 



Y 



Jctr/fi /„ Mifei 



O 



30 



Position of" 3rd Cavalry Division, the early afternoon of October 20th. 






I 9 I 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

The 3rd Cavalry Division together with the 7th Infantry 1914 
Division came under the orders of* Sir John French on the 
10th. The following day two armoured cars and one unarmoured 
car, manned by marines, were temporarily attached to the 
Brigade. Under command of Captain A. C. Charrington 
(Royals) they surprised a German cavalry patrol south of Ypres, 
capturing two officers and three men, who belonged to the 7th Jager 
regiment. The nights of the 1 oth and 1 1 th were spent at Thourout, 
and the 12th at Roulers, the Royals holding a protective line 
outside the town. On 13th October the Brigade marched from 
Roulers to Ypres. On the way an officer's patrol of the 
1 oth Hussars ran into a German patrol on the outskirts of 
Comines and had one man captured. At Ypres the Brigade 
watered and fed in the market square, being the first British 
troops to enter the town, which was at that time untouched 
by shell fire. Uhlan patrols had visited the place three days 
before and had looted all the jewellery and wine shops. The 
Brigade moved on to Gheluvelt for the night, passing on the way 
Hooge Chateau. The baron and his wife came out and told General 
Makins what they knew with regard to the movement of German 
troops. Early the following morning about two miles south of 
Ypres a Taube flew over the Brigade at a fairly low altitude. The 
men were ordered to fire. A bullet penetrated the petrol tank and 
brought the machine down. The pilot and observer, both wearing 
the Iron Cross, were captured in a neighbouring wood. 

Throughout the 14th October the Brigade was in touch 
with German cavalry on the line Kemmel — Wytschaete and 
continual skirmishing took place. The Royal Dragoons, who 
were leading with the armoured cars, drove strong Genrmn 
patrols out of the Eastern edge of Neuve Eglise, while the 
2nd Cavalry Division (3rd and 5th Cavalry Brigades), with whom 
communication had been established at La Clytte, advanced into the 
village from the West. During the morning a party of seven 

5 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

1 914 Uhlans suddenly crossed the road between the advanced guard 
squadron and the main body of the Brigade. Captain De Knoop, 
who was 25 yards away at the time, emptied his revolver at them 
as they crossed in single file, but failed to hit any. A patrol of 
10th Hussars with Captain De Knoop then chased them and 
accounted for five. It turned out that this patrol had been driven 
through the brigade column by the squadron of Captain T. W. 
Pragnell (4th Hussars), who were acting as advance guard to their 
regiment and had been ordered to push on and occupy, if possible, 
Kemmel village and Mont Kemmel. The capture by the cavalry 
of the commanding positions of Mont des Cats, Mont Noir and 
Mont Kemmel during these days proved of inestimable value in 
the subsequent fighting round Ypres. 

The 5th and 6th Cavalry Brigades bivouacked in Wytschaete 
for the night. During the afternoon the 6th C.F.A. opened 
a dressing station in the Cloth Hall at Ypres, but moved to 
Wytschaete in the evening. The same day the light section 
6th C.F.A. was almost captured in Dadizeele by a patrol of Uhlans 
who suddenly appeared at the far end of the village. 

On 1 5th October the 10th Hussars sent patrols to Holle- 
beke and Zandvoorde in support of an armoured car reconnaissance, 
and that night held a line Hollebeke — Houthem. The following 
morning in a dense cold fog the Brigade again marched North 
through Ypres to the St. Julien area, and billeted that night on the 
Zonnebeke — Passchendaele road, the Royals camping inside the out- 
posts of the 22nd Infantry Brigade who were at Zonnebeke. The 
intention of the 4th Corps Commander was to advance on the 
morning of the 1 8th and seize Menin with the idea of using it as 
a pivot to make a flank attack against Courtrai and the line of the 
Scheldt. On the 1 7th and 1 8th the Brigade sent forward squadrons 
towards the Menin — Roulers road, and these at once came in touch 
with the enemy, being continually engaged with strong Uhlan 

6 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

patrols. The night of the 17th was spent at Zonnebeke and the J 9 T 4 
1 8th at Passchendaele. Every precaution against surprise was 
taken, roads being strongly picketed and standing patrols sent out. 
At that time the line from the right of the Belgians as far as Menin 
was held by the 7th Infantry and 3rd Cavalry Divisions alone. Had 
the enemy broken through about Menin, not only the 4th Corps 
but also the French and Belgian forces to the North would have 
been cut off and the sea-coast towns must have been captured. 

On 19th October "C" Battery R.H.A. (Major J. W. F. 
Lamont), which had landed at Zeebrugge on 8th October, joined the 
Brigade, and early that morning marched with the 10th Hussars to 
Moorslede, where the Royals had billeted the night before. 

October 19th was a critical day, during which the Brigade was 
continuously fighting. Its role was (1) to protect the left flank 
of the 7th Division in the event of its attacking Menin; (2) to 
reconnoitre towards Winkel-St. Eloi (see Map 3 facing page 18). 
The ioth Hussars were on the right in touch with the infantry, 
and the Royals on the left of the 10th Hussars. It became 
clear that we were opposed by large forces of the enemy, and 
it was not found possible to develop the attack of the 
7th Division. Moreover, the 7th Cavalry Brigade on the 
left had not been able to reach the Roulers — Menin road, and 
was ordered to fall back on the high ground North of 
Moorslede. This left the 6th Cavalry Brigade in a somewhat 
isolated position, and the Royals and ioth Hussars who 
had advanced from St. Pieter and captured Ledeghem were com- 
pelled to withdraw to the West of the village. Owing to the skilful 
manner in which this retirement was carried out our casualties were 
very small, although the German cyclist battalions, who were 
attacking Ledeghem, were well trained, being extremely quick and 
excellent shots. The Brigade finally gained touch with the Queen's 
(Royal West Surrey Regiment). Thus " The Tangier Horse " and 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

1 9 14 "The Tangier Foot " joined hands once again in action.* Through- 
out this operation " C " Battery gave valuable support from a 
position two miles South-east of Moorslede. The enemy, using an 
infantry brigade supported by several batteries, now launched a 
determined attack on Rolleghem Cappelle, and succeeded in working 
round on the left flank. The Brigade was obliged to withdraw 
South-east of Moorslede, and finally took up a position on the left 
rear in touch with a French cavalry division, and covering the 
7th Cavalry Brigade as it moved back from Moorslede. Lieutenant 
J. H. Leckie and Lieutenant H. E. F. de Trafford (Royals) were 
wounded and ten men were killed. That night the Brigade billeted 
at Poelcappelle. French Territorials were digging themselves in 
on the Passchendaele Ridge. 

Meanwhile, the 1st Corps had detrained at St. Omer and 
marched to Hazebrouck, coming into position on the left of the 
4th Corps by the 20th October. 

At 4.30 a.m. on 20th, the Brigade entrenched a position with 
commandeered tools West of the Westroosebeke — Passchendaele 
road. The horses were some distance to the rear in hollows. The 
enemy attacked at 8 a.m. The position, which was well covered by 
" C " Battery, was held till noon, when the Brigade began to fall 
back towards Pilkem owing to the retirement of the 7th Dragoons 
(French) from Westroosebeke, which began about 11.30 a.m., 
leaving the left flank in the air. Captain A. C. Charrington 
(Royals) was killed. During the afternoon fighting began afresh 
by the enemy deploying an infantry column on Poelcappelle. That 
night the Brigade which bivouacked near the Pilkem — Langemarck 

* In the reign of Charles II. the acquisition of Tangiers as part of the dowry of 
Catherine of Braganza led to the formation of " The Tangier Horse " and " The 
Tangier Foot " for the protection of that place. On its return home the former 
became " The Royal Regiment of Dragoons " and the latter " The 2nd or Queen's 
Regiment." These two regiments, therefore, may justly claim to be among the 
very earliest of our regular standing army. 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

road stood to arms owing to a night attack on Langemarck, which 1914 
was repulsed. 

The first battle of Ypres may be said to have started on 
20th October, and the three weeks which follow constitute one of 
the most critical periods of the whole war on the Western Front. 
Only at two other periods, namely, during the retreat to the Marne 
in the previous August and during the opening stages of the great 
German offensive of 21st March, 19 18, was the situation equally 
serious. The enemy were now to waste tens ot thousands of lives 
in a fruitless attempt to win the Channel ports, which they could 
have captured in September without firing a shot. It has been 
pointed out* that there were four main avenues of attack : (1) against 
the Belgians and French on the Yser, (2) against Haig's 1st Corps, 
Rawlinson's 4th Corps (7th Division and 3rd Cavalry Division), 
Allenby's Cavalry Corps (rst and 2nd Cavalry Divisions) and 
Pulteney's ^rd Corps, holding the line from Ypres to Armentieres in 
that order, (]) against Smith-Dorrien's 2nd Corps round La Bassee, 
(4) against Maud'huy's 10th Army stretching from Vermelles to 
Albert. The so-called first battle of Ypres was fought on a front 
which extended roughly from Bixschoote to Armentieres (see Map 2 
facing page 10). 

Having drawn rations at Ypres during the morning of 
2 1 st October, and offsaddled there for a short time, the Brigade was 
ordered about midday to fill a gap at the two canal crossings near 
Hollebeke between the right of the 7th Division and the left of 
Gough's 2nd Cavalry Division. The 4th Hussars under Lieut. - 
Colonel P. Howell were found holding one of these crossings. This 
position was occupied till 7 p.m., when orders were received to take 
over trenches from the Scots Guards at Zandvoorde. This was 
the first occasion on which the Brigade had been definitely separated 
from its horses. The trenches of the Scots Guards had been well 

* Nelson's History of the War. — John Bcchan. 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

1 9 14 dug (for those days) and were deep and narrow, but the line held 
by the Brigade (650 rifles strong) was longer than that held by the 
Guards. It extended from Zandvoorde village to the canal East 
of Hollebeke chateau, the chateau itself being occupied by the 
Germans. Brigade headquarters arrived at Zandvoorde at 8 p.m. 
in the pitch dark and the relief was complete by 1 1 .0 p.m. That 
day Captain R. F. Glyn (Royals) joined the Brigade as trans- 
port officer. 

At 7.0 a.m. on 22nd October the Germans began shelling 
Zandvoorde and Brigade headquarters, and the led horses were 
removed to the outskirts of the village. Hollebeke chateau was 
shelled by " C " Battery in conjunction with Commander Sampson's 
naval gun. " C " Squadron of the Royals, which had been with- 
drawn from the line for the purpose, then occupied the chateau, 
meeting with little opposition. x-\bout this time a German wireless 
was intercepted. This wireless, which ordered an attack on 
Zandvoorde, made it clear that the enemy on this sector had 
been reinforced by four entirely fresh Corps (which were afterwards 
proved to be the 21st, 22nd, 26th and 27th Reserve Corps). The 
Brigade was reinforced by a double Company of the Kings, while 
two infantry battalions were held in readiness. The day passed 
fairly quietly, but there was heavy firing at 8 p.m., and again at 
midnight when the enemy attempted to attack but was easily 
repulsed. Lieut. -Colonel R. W. R. Barnes, D.S.O., Major Hon. 
C. B. O. Mitford and Captain G. C. Stewart (10th Hussars), and 
Lieutenant Talbot (" C " Battery) were wounded. Three men 
were killed and ten wounded. The Royals were relieved at 9.0 a.m. 
on the 23rd by the 7th Cavalry Brigade, but the 10th Hussars, who 
were in full view of the enemy, could not be withdrawn till the 
evening. 

On the 24th two motor ambulances were attached to the 
6th C.F.A. for the first time, and were used in spite of the roads, 
which were very bad, to evacuate wounded to Ypres. 

10 



Map to show position of the 3rd Cavalry Division on October 21st and subsequent 
days until it was hurried North on October ?ist to till gap at Hooge. 




Armenkierw 






FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

The Brigade bivouacked at Kleinzillebeke till the 25th, when 19 14 
at 5.30 p.m. it took over the same trenches at Zandvoorde from the 
7th Cavalry Brigade. That day the 3rd Cavalry Division came 
under orders of the Cavalry Corps (Major-General E. H. H. 
Allenby, C.B.). At 8 p.m. the enemy (strength about 500) attacked 
and were repulsed. About midday on the 26th, General Makins 
was informed by General Byng that the 1st Corps, the Cavalry Corps 
and the 7th Division were to make a general advance about 3 p.m. 
that afternoon. Owing, however, to the difficulties in which the 
7th Division found itself, the advance was suspended. The centre 
of the 7th Division was driven back and the Gordon Highlanders 
on the left of the 10th Hussars had their left flank exposed. Early 
on the 27th, however, the line was rectified by a brigade of the 
1 st Corps which came up in support. Shelling continued through- 
out the day, but there were no further attacks. Captain Sir F. S. 
Rose, Bt., and Lieutenant C. R. Turnor (10th LIussars) were killed 
and Lieutenant R. H. W. Henderson (Royals) was wounded. 

The evening of the 26th has been called the end of the first 
phase of the first Battle of Ypres. The main feature of the Allied 
strategy during the previous month had been the intention of 
turning the German right flank. In face, however, of the over- 
whelming reinforcements which the Germans threw on to this 
flank, the plan failed. But the chief result of the severe fighting 
of this period was that a comparatively firm line had been established 
by the Allies from Switzerland to the sea-coast.* 

At 5 p.m. on the 27th the Brigade, less one squadron and 
machine gun section of the Royals, who were left in the chateau, was 
relieved and returned to Kleinzillebeke. On the 28th the first 
draft of men for the Royals arrived from England. This draft 



* For an interesting and more or less official account of the First Battle of Ypres 
from the German point of view read " Die Schlacht an der Vser und bei Vpern im 
Herbst, 1914" published by the General Headquarter Staff of the German Army. 
Number 10 in the series " Der Grosse Krieg" (Stalling: Oldenburg). 



II 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

1 914 was called " First Reinforcements," the numbers of which were laid 
down in regulations and arranged before leaving England. 

At 4.30 a.m. on 29th October, the Brigade stood to. Heavy 
tiring was heard and the Germans, who were advancing in great 
force, succeeded in pushing back the line North of Zandvoorde. 
Orders were received to assist the 7th Division in a counter attack. 
The Brigade moved forward in touch with General Lawford's 
22nd Brigade (2nd Queens, 2nd Warwicks, 1st Royal Welsh 
Fusiliers and 1st South Staffords), which was advancing on the line 
Gheluvelt — Kruseik. The 10th Flussars advanced dismounted 
through the woods. There was only slight opposition and the line 
was re-established. 

The whole situation on 30th October was extremely critical. 
It is estimated that at least twelve German Corps opposed the seven 
Corps of the Allies on the sector Nieuport — La Bassee. If the 
enemy had penetrated the line at any point North of Hollebeke 
they would have succeeded in isolating the 1st Corps. It was 
decided that the line from Gheluvelt to the angle of the canal South 
of Kleinzillebeke must be held at all costs. 

At dawn on the 30th October the 7th Cavalry Brigade were 
shelled out of their position, and were forced to withdraw from 
the Zandvoorde ridge towards Kleinzillebeke. The Brigade was 
ordered out to cover their withdrawal and occupy a line of trenches 
East of Kleinzillebeke. The 10th Hussars were on the left and 
the two remaining squadrons of the Royals on their right 
in support of the 3rd squadron in the chateau of Hollebeke. A 
strong infantry attack accompanied by heavy shelling developed 
along the whole front. The squadron in the chateau was very 
hard pressed. " C " Battery had an excellent target, catching the 
enemy in the open as they crossed the Zandvoorde ridge. Owing 
to the loss of the high ground about Hollebeke village the Royals 
were forced to abandon Hollebeke Chateau and, after repulsing 
several attacks and taking a heavy toll of the enemy, withdrew 

12 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

Northwards with their right on the railway and their left connecting 1914 
with the remainder of the Brigade, who in spite of continued attacks 
held on to its trenches. The 3rd Hussars and Royal Scots Greys 
came up in support. The 3rd Hussars were employed on the 
North of the Zillebeke— Zandvoorde road in support of the left of 
the 7th Cavalry Brigade. The Greys were not used. At 7 p.m. 
two battalions of the 4th Guards Brigade arrived and began to take 
over the trenches. The relief was completed by 2.30 a.m., and the 
Brigade bivouacked on the Southern outskirts of Zillebeke. A 
message was received from the Commander-in-Chief, congratulating 
the Brigade on the great fight it had put up all day in the face of 
enormous odds. 

During this action Lord Charles M. Nairne (Royals), Captain 
Kinkead, R.A.M.C. (attached 10th Hussars) and 2nd-Lieutenant 
Burn (Royals) were killed. Lieutenant A. Peyton (A.D.C.), Major 
B. E. P. Leighton, Lieutenant C. G. W. Swire and Lieutenant 
H. M. P. Hewett (Royals), Major C. W. H. Crichton, Captains 
the Hon. H. Baring, E. A. Fielden and G. C. Stewart (10th Hussars) 
were wounded. Captain H. Jump (Royals) was missing. He was 
so severely wounded it was found impossible to move him from 
Hollebeke Chateau and he was captured.* Twelve men were killed, 
37 wounded, 3 wounded and missing, and 4 missing. 

The real crisis came on 31st October. 

Gheluvelt was heavily shelled early in the morning, and about 
10.30 a.m. the enemy covered by artillery made a strong attack 
against the 1st Division (North of the Ypres — Menin road), who 
suffered severe casualties and were driven back. This exposed the 
left flank of the 7th Division. Allenby, whose dismounted cavalry 
with a few Indian reinforcements held the line from Kleinzillebeke 
to South of Messines, was also in great difficulties. At 7.^0 a.m. 

* During the period of so-called "reprisals," Captain Jump (Royals), who belonged 
to a regiment of which the German Emperor had been Colonel-in-chief up to the 
outbreak of war, was singled out for particularly severe treatment. 

13 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

1914 that morning the Brigade marched to a rendezvous in the woods 
half a mile South of Hooge and came under the orders of Sir 
Douglas Haig (G.O.C. 1st Corps). At 1 p.m. the Brigade 
entrenched a position East of Hooge, as a report was received that 
the infantry in front were retiring, and it was hoped to form a line 
behind which they could rally. The situation could hardly have 
been more serious and Field-Marshal Sir John French (as he then 
was) has since stated that it seemed to him at that moment as if 
the last barrier between the Germans and the sea-coast had been 
broken down. But the 1st Division, who had fought magnificently 
in the face or great odds, rallied, and at 3 p.m. orders were received 
by the 6th Cavalry Brigade to support the left of the 2nd Infantry 
Brigade in the woods, South-east of Hooge. The Royals and two 
squadrons of the 10th Hussars advanced dismounted through the 
woods with fixed bayonets. A large number of Germans were 
killed or wounded, and the attack proved a complete success both 
here and along the whole sector. 

" C " Battery gave valuable support throughout these 
operations. One gun was pulled by its crew right into the woods 
and came into action against a small shooting lodge where the enemy 
had concealed some machine guns. These were effectually silenced. 

The 6th C.F.A. had a dressing station near the H. in Halte 
(afterwards known as Hell Fire Corner) on the Ypres — Hooge road, 
and though heavily shelled were fortunate in having very few 
casualties. 

About noon on the 1st November, orders were received to 
march to the road junction on the Hooge — Kleinzillebeke road and 
support the 2nd Infantry Brigade, who were being hard pressed. 
One dismounted squadron of the 10th Hussars supported the left 
of the line and two squadrons of the Royals filled a gap on the right 
caused by the Irish Guards being forced to fall back. 

Captain W. O. Gibbs (10th Hussars) and Lieutenant G. Pitt- 
Rivers (Royals) were wounded, 2 men were killed and 9 wounded. 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

During this and the three following days the Brigade was used as 19 14 
a mounted mobile reserve, being constantly called upon both by 
night and day to turn out in support of some part of the line which 
was threatened. It remained in rear of Lord Cavan's 4th Guards 
Brigade (2nd Batt. Grenadier Guards, 2nd Batt. Coldstream Guards, 
3rd Batt. Coldstream Guards, 1st Batt. Irish Guards) throughout 
2nd November. Lieut. - Colonel R. W. R. Barnes, D.S.O. 
(10th Hussars), was again wounded that day. Throughout 
the 3rd November Ypres was heavily shelled, and the town was then 
practically deserted by all civilians except the few who continued to 
inhabit the cellars. 

On 4th November, at 6.30 p.m., the 3rd Dragoon Guards 
(Lieut. -Colonel O. B. B. Smith-Bingham, D.S.O.) marched in from 
Cassel and joined the Brigade (strength, 28 officers, 530 N.C.O.s 
and men, and 597 horses). Nincty-hve remounts and a draft for 
the 10th Hussars also arrived. 

On the evening of the 5th the Brigade (1,200 rifles and 
5 machine guns) took over the trenches of the 3rd Infantry Brigade 
in the woods half a mile South of Veldhoek. The finding of this 
number of rifles taxed the resources of the Brigade to its utmost 
capacity. But it was imperative that the men should be provided, 
though it entailed leaving one man to look after fifteen to twenty 
horses. The relief was completed by 9.30 p.m., the 3rd Dragoon 
Guards and 10th Hussars being in the firing line, the Royals in 
reserve. " C " Battery, all led horses and transport were in a farm 
some three kilometres behind, but one gun of the battery was taken 
up immediately behind the front line to drive enemy snipers from 
some houses. This gun fired at dawn at 250 yards range and did 
good execution. That night about 10.30 p.m. a fire broke out in 
a barn close to Brigade headquarters, and the whole building was 
burnt to the ground. Five men were killed and 8 injured. 

During the afternoon there was considerable hostile shelling, 
but no attacks followed. The 3rd Dragoon Guards were rein- 

J5 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

1 9 14 forced by two troops of the Royals and one machine gun. At 
1 1 p.m. the Brigade was relieved by three battalions of the 
9th Infantry Brigade, and returned to the horses. The casualties 
were Captain J. F. Hodgkinson (died of wounds) and Major 
E. R. A. Shearman (10th Hussars), Captain G. R. Kevill-Davies 
and Lieutenant H. R. Talbot (3rd Dragoon Guards) wounded. 
Twenty men killed and 45 wounded. 

On 7th November, General Makins was forced to proceed to 
Boulogne owing to sickness. He had been very unwell for some 
time, and it was only the critical nature of the fighting which deter- 
mined him to stay as long as possible. Lieut. -Colonel O. B. B. 
Smith-Bingham, D.S.O. (3rd Dragoon Guards), took over temporary 
command of the Brigade. During the day the Brigade again moved 
up in support of Lord Cavan, and bivouacked at a farm North-east 
of " Halte " On the evening of the 8th a dismounted party (220 
3rd Dragoon Guards, 300 Royal Dragoons, and 2 machine guns) 
under Lieut. -Colonel G. Steele (Royals) took over the trenches of the 
3rd Infantry Brigade between Zillebeke and Kleinzillebeke. The 
same day a heavy shell burst close to two ambulances of the 
6th C.F.A. at Zillebeke, where a dressing station had been 
established. Both teams bolted. One was eventually stopped, 
but the other was last seen galloping straight into the enemy lines, 
neither horses nor ambulance ever being seen again. 

On 9th November, Lieut. -Colonel D. G. M. Campbell 
(9th Lancers) took over command of the Brigade. Captain R. F. 
Glyn was appointed A.D.C. 

That night Colonel Steele's party was relieved by the 
7th Cavalry Brigade. On the 10th November the whole Brigade 
turned out to support Lord Cavan's line, a party of 300 10th Hussars 
and 200 Royal Dragoons under Major Shearman subsequently 
taking over the same trenches from the 7th Cavalry Brigade. 
Lieutenant S. B. Horn (3rd Dragoon Guards) was wounded. 

On the 11th and 12th the 3rd Dragoon Guards again turned 

16 







/ 7U u> ty> I -feme ia/ ■ ^ l Q> f t € tfa*n/i6e£ , ^ r ^ 3 \J 

a?zr/ a/fe tafia ~crJ f/u. 2/ ' ^' -t /.•-/ -1 / c ? <_ 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

out in support of the Guards Brigade, and on relief by a regiment 19 14 
of the 7th Cavalry Brigade, a party of 300 3rd Dragoon Guards 
and 100 Royal Dragoons, under Colonel Smith-Bingham, relieved 
Major Shearman's detachment. Sniping was very bad during these 
two days. Major Hon. W. G. S. Cadogan (10th Hussars), 
Captain T. P. Dorrington (Royals), Lieutenant H. R. Talbot 
(3rd Dragoon Guards) and seven men, including R.S.M. King 
(10th Hussars), were killed. Captain E. W. E. Palmes (10th 
Hussars) and 36 men were wounded. 

At 2 p.m. on 1 3th November the North Somerset Yeomanry 
(Lieut. -Colonel G. C. Glyn, D.S.O.) marched in from Dranoutre and 
joined the Brigade (strength 26 officers, 467 N.C.O.s and men, 
and 498 horses). 

During the 13th and early the following day the enemy shelled 
the bivouac, two men and 30 horses being killed and six men and 
45 horses wounded. The Brigade (less " C " Battery) moved back 
in consequence to some farms South ot Vlamertinghe, Colonel 
Smith-Bingham's detachment in the trenches having been relieved 
by the 7th Cavalry Brigade. 

On 1 5th November the Brigade, having marched to Ypres 
railway station, from where the horses were sent back, found 
300 rifles per unit for the trenches : (1) 300 3rd Dragoon Guards 
and 200 North Somerset Yeomanry under Colonel Smith-Bingham 
to relieve the 7th Cavalry Brigade in the trenches on the Zillebeke — 
Kleinzillebeke road, (2) 300 Royal Dragoons and 200 10th Hussars 
under Colonel Steele to relieve the 2nd Cavalry Brigade on the left 
of Lord Cavan's line and East of Zillebeke, (3) too 10th Hussars 
and 100 North Somerset Yeomanry under Major Shearman in 
dug-outs in rear of Lord Cavan's headquarters. During the t 6th 
there was desultory sniping but little shell fire. Captain Hon. A. 
Annesley (10th Hussars) was killed. 

At 9.0 a.m. on the 17th November the sector held by Colonel 
Smith-Bingham's detachment was subjected to heavy and continuous 

17 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

1 9 14 shell fire, and at 1.0 p.m. an infantry attack developed against his 
right and centre. The enemy who belonged to the Prussian Guard 
advanced with gallantry, coming to within 20 yards of" our trenches. 
But the attack was repulsed with heavy loss to the Germans, 
" C " Battery's fire being very effective during their retirement. 
Shortly afterwards these trenches underwent a second bombardment, 
and at V45 P- m - another infantry attack took place, this time against 
the left of Colonel Smith-Bingham's line, held by " C " Squadron 
3rd Dragoon Guards and "B" Squadron North Somerset Yeomanry, 
who suffered heavily in officers and men. The fire trenches 
were reinforced by " B " Squadron 3rd Dragoon Guards and 
"A" Squadron North Somerset Yeomanry, who came up from 
support, where their place was taken by two Companies of the 
Coldstream Guards. This attack, which proved the most deter- 
mined of the two and was also made by the Prussian Guard, was 
likewise repulsed with heavy loss to the enemy. It was estimated 
that between 350 and 400 dead Germans lay out in front of the 
trenches held by the Brigade. The Prussian Guard advanced so 
close to our trenches, in front of which there was no wire, that the 
Field Police could be seen threatening their men and urging them 
on to the attack. 

In the vicinity of the trenches held by " C " Squadron 
3rd Dragoon Guards, there was a farm building which the enemy 
had succeeded in occupying. Twice it was attacked by 
" C " Squadron, the attacking party in each case being either killed 
or wounded. At the third attempt, which was led by Captain 
Wright, the farm was captured, Captain Wright himself shooting 
four Germans with his revolver. This officer, who was killed 
shortly afterwards by a shell, was subsequently recommended for 
the Victoria Cross. 

About t 2 noon the same day an attack was also delivered against 
the line held by Colonel Steele's detachment. The enemy massed 
under cover of a farm in front of the sector held by the 10th Hussars. 

18 



Map to illustrate period October 1 9 th— November 17th, 191 4- 




1914 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

This movement was reported by Lieutenant the Hon. Julian Grenfell 191 4 
(Royals), who had carried out a most daring reconnaissance in front 
of the German trenches. The attack was repulsed about 1.45 p.m., 
the enemy losing heavily. 

Colonel Smith-Bingham's and Colonel Steele's detachments 
were relieved by the 7th Cavalry Brigade and by the 1st Battalion 
Hertfordshire Regiment, T.F., respectively. The casualties were : 
Captain E. Wright, Lieutenant E. W. Chapman (3rd Dragoon 
Guards), Captain C. H. Peto, 2nd-Lieutenant R. F. Drake (10th 
Hussars) and Captain F. Liebert and 2nd-Lieutenant J. S. Davey 
(North Somerset Yeomanry) were killed. Captain P. D. Stewart 
(3rd Dragoon Guards), 2nd -Lieutenant W. P. Browne (Royals), 
Captain S. G. Bates (7th Hussars, Adjutant North Somerset 
Yeomanry) and 2nd Lieutenant Bailward (North Somerset 
Yeomanry) were wounded. R.S.M. Stewart (3rd Dragoon Guards) 
and 40 N.C.O.s and men were killed, 85 N.C.O.s and men were 
wounded, and three men missing. 

That night the Brigade returned to the horses, which were 
brought up to the Square in Ypres, and then went into bivouac South 
of Vlamertinghe, 

The following day a congratulatory telegram on the behaviour 
of the Brigade was received from the G.O.C. 1st Corps. 

It is clear even from this simple record of events that the 
Brigade had been almost continuously in action since its arrival in 
Flanders. Owing to the lack of reserves scarcely a day or night 
passed, when the Allied line was not in imminent danger. In the 
face of the immense numerical superiority of the enemy no real rest 
either for men or horses was possible. Even when the Brigade was 
withdrawn for a few hours, it always had to be ready to turn out 
in instant support of whatever troops needed assistance. The 
mobility afforded by the horses enabled the cavalry to be moved 
quickly to whatever was the threatened point, when the horses were 
sent to the rear and the men thrown into the line as infantry. 

19 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

1 9 14 The work done during these weeks of continuous fighting in the 
neighbourhood of Ypres forms a record of which the Brigade may 
well be proud. 

On 20th November the Brigade marched into billets South-east 
of Hazebrouck, Brigade headquarters being at Les Lauriers. The 
march was made on foot owing to a heavy fall of snow and a hard 
frost, which made the roads almost impassable. The 3rd Dragoon 
Guards and North Somerset Yeomanry did not arrive until nearly 
midnight, while some of the transport only came in next day. 

The following Special Order of the Day was issued by Major- 
General the Hon. J. H. G. Byng, C.B., M.V.O., commanding the 
3rd Cavalry Division : — 

" In circulating the short diary* of the operations in which the 
" Division has taken part, I wish to take the opportunity of conveying 
" to all ranks my gratitude and admiration for their conduct. With 
" little or no experience of trench work, exposed to every vagary of 
" weather, and under a persistent and concentrated shelling, the 
" regimental officers, N.C.O.s and men have undertaken this most 
" arduous and demoralising work with a keenness and courage which 
£( I place on record with the greatest pride. 

" With the exception of 30th October, when the Zandvoorde 
" trenches, held by the Household Cavalry, and the Chateau de 
" Hollebeke, held by a squadron of The Royal Dragoons, were 
" attacked by a German army corps, no trench has been lost and no 
" ground evacuated. On eight occasions Brigades were sent in 
" support of the line which had been partially penetrated, and on 
" nearly every occasion either I or one of the Brigadiers have received 
" the thanks and congratulations of the Commander of that zone of 
" defence for the gallant behaviour of our troops. 

" The 6th Cavalry Brigade may well be proud of their action at 
"St. Pieter on 19th October; Kruseik, 26th October; Chateau de 

;; This diary, with the Special Order of the Day, was published in The Times of 16th 
December, 1914. 

20 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES 

" Hollebeke, 30th October; Hooge Woods, 31st October; and 1914 

" Zillebeke trenches on 17th November; while the actions of the 

" 7th Cavalry Brigade at Oostnieuwkerke, 16th October; Moorslede, 

" 19th October ; Zonnebeke, 21st October ; Zandvoorde, 26th 

" October; Zandvoorde trenches, 30th October; Veldhoek, 2nd 

" November; Kleinzillebeke, 6th November, have been the subject 

" of official recognition and well-merited praise. 

" Each Regiment, Battery, Royal Engineers, and Signal Squadron 
" and Administrative and Medical Service has more than maintained 
" its historic reputation, and during the last six weeks has added to 
" the renown of the British soldier as a magnificent fighter, and it is 
" with the utmost confidence in their steadfast courage that I contem- 
" plate a continuance of the campaign until our enemy receives his 
" final overthrow." 

(Signed) J. Byng, 

Major-General 
Commanding 3rd Cavalry Division. 

23rd November, 1914- 

On arrival in the Hazebrouck area the 10th Royal Hussars, 
amid general regret, were transferred to the 8th Cavalry Brigade.* 1 

On 23rd November the first allotment of 72 hours' leave to 
England was sanctioned. 

With regard to this period of comparatively open warfare, 
there are a few points which it is perhaps worth recording. The 
country over which the fighting took place was very enclosed, and 
cut up by many dykes. The going was extremely heavy. The 

The 8th Cavalry Brigade which now became part of the 3rd Cavalry Division 
consisted of the Royal Horse Guards, the 10th Royal Hussars, and the Essex 
Yeomanry. The Leicestershire Yeomanry took the place of the Royal Horse 
Guards in the 7th Cavalry Brigade. 

21 



FIRST BATTLE OF YPRES. 

1 9 14 Brigade therefore moved by the roads if" it was possible, and 
generally had one squadron only in advance. Flank protection, 
if considered necessary, was provided by patrols marching on 
parallel roads. The country was full of spies and every precaution 
against surprise at night had to be taken. It was usually dark 
by the time the Brigade arrived at the village where it was to billet. 
Telegraph wires and telephone exchanges had to be inspected and, 
if dangerous, dislocated. Roads were blocked and standing patrols 
placed some few hundred yards outside the village. A central 
alarm post was selected, and its whereabouts made known to all 
ranks. Villages were almost always shelled early in the morning, 
and a start at dawn avoided many casualties. The supply arrange- 
ments worked well. Although rations often arrived in the middle 
of the night, they never failed to come up. The three motor 
cyclists attached to Brigade headquarters proved invaluable. With- 
out them communication both to the front and to the rear would 
have been almost impossible. The casualties during this period 
were: officers, 16 killed, 26 wounded, 1 missing; other ranks, 
104 killed, 305 wounded, 20 missing. 



CHAPTER III. 



SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES 



1914 



FROM the 20th November, 19 14, to the 23rd April, 191 5, 
during which period the Brigade was first in billets South-east 
of Hazebrouck, and then (from 28th January onwards) in the 
Steenbecque — Thiennes — Blaringhem area, there are only a few 
events which need to be recorded. 

On 2nd December H.M. the King, accompanied by the Prince 
of Wales and Field Marshal Sir John French, inspected the Brigade. 
The 3rd Cavalry Division lined the Hazebrouck — La Motte road, 
the King walking between the lines and inspecting the troops. 

On 14th December the Brigade turned out mounted and 
marched to a point about one and a half miles beyond Bailleul on the 
Locre road. This movement took place in order that the Brigade 
might be in readiness to support an attack which was to be made 
North of Armentieres. The night was spent at Bailleul, the men 
being in glass-houses and the horses in the open. After " standing- 
to " at half-hour's notice on the 1 5th, the Brigade returned to the 
Les Lauriers area the following day. 

During this month French interpreters were attached to the 
Brigade for the first time. Of the many, who at one time or 
another formed part of the Brigade Adjutant De Lambertye served 
on Brigade Headquarters for almost the whole period of the war. 
Others who were on the strength of the various units for a consider- 
able time were M. des Logis de la Vigerie, Lacaze, de Blacas, 
Bonnet, Percy Carter, de St. Mars, Tinant, d'Heursel, Valadon 
and Bleriot. 

At 2 p.m. on 3rd February, the Brigade (strength, 3rd Dragoon 191 5 
Guards 250 rifles, the Royals 250 rifles, North Somerset Yeomanry 
250 rifles, 8 machine guns) " embussed " at Steenbecque and 
travelled to Ypres, arriving in the Grand Place at 9 p.m. Much 
delay on the road was caused by the transport of the 16th French 

23 



SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES 

1 91 5 Corps which was moving South. The men were billeted in three 
streets South of the Grand Place. At 10 p.m. on the 4th, and 
during the morning of the 6th, the town was shelled, but there 
were no casualties. On 8th February the regiments paraded in 
Ypres at three-quarter-of-an-hour intervals and marched to the 
trenches, taking over a sector of 1,200 yards from the 7th Cavalry 
Brigade one mile South-east of Zillebeke. Seven squadrons with 
seven machine guns occupied the front line. The other three 
squadrons with one machine gun were in support 1 50 yards behind 
the right of the 4 line. Brigade headquarters were with these 
supports. On the left of the Brigade were the 10th Hussars 
(now with the 8th Cavalry Brigade) and on the right the 
28th Division of the 5th Corps. The reserves were supplied by 
the 77th French Infantry Regiment, and the supporting artillery 
was French. 

On the 10th the support dug-outs were shelled during the 
afternoon and bombs were thrown into the Royals' trenches. 
Signs of sapping were observed opposite The Royal Dragoons 
and North Somerset Yeomanry. The trenches, which varied 
in distance from the enemy by 20 to 250 yards, were in a 
very wet state. There was no continuous trench system. At night 
enemy snipers appeared to be both in front and behind, and the 
bringing up of rations to " Cavan's " dug-out was a matter of con- 
siderable difficulty. Enemy trench mortars began to be active, but 
were effectually silenced by French " 75's." Snow and rain made 
the conditions still more unpleasant. During this period in the line 
it was often possible to hear military bands playing in the woods 
behind the enemy's trenches. 

On 11th February the Germans shelled Ypres with 6-inch 
howitzers. The billets in the town which had quite recently been 
occupied by the Brigade, were badly hit. The 1st Life Guards, 
who were occupying them at the time, unfortunately suffered heavy 
casualties. 

24 



SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES 

On the i ith Captain E. L. Gibbs (North Somerset Yeomanry) 191 5 
was killed, but with this exception casualties were extremely light. 
The Brigade was relieved on the evening of the 13th by the 
4th Cavalry Brigade (3rd Hussars, Carabiniers, and Oxfordshire 
Yeomanry), and returned by bus to the Steenbecque area. 

On nth March the Brigade marched to the vicinity of La 
Motte, where the 3rd Cavalry Division concentrated. Later in 
the day the Division, which formed a mobile reserve to the 1st Army 
during the attack on Neuve Chapelle, moved into billets North and 
East of Merville. Having " stood-to " saddled up all day on 
the 1 2th, the Brigade returned to billets in the Steenbecque area. 

" C " Battery remained North of Kemmel village, covering 
a North Midland Territorial division from the end of March to 
the beginning of May. On one occasion during this period the 
Battery was issued with some so-called incendiary shells as an 
experiment, and was ordered to set Petit Bois alight. The shells 
were duly fired, but with no result. 

On 23rd April began twelve days of continuous marching and 
counter marching through the country West of Ypres in support 
of the French and British line, which was in danger of being broken 
owing to the first use of gas by the enemy. 

The Brigade marched that day to Abeele, being much delayed 
en route by buses which were bringing up the 25th French Corps 
from St. Pol. On 24th April, after billeting at Eecke, the 
Brigade marched to Vlamertinghe, where the whole division 
was concentrated. 

The first gas attack took place on the evening of 22nd April 
and the second attack on the morning of 24th April. 

The Brigade spent the night at Boescheppe, and the 
following day marched North to a point West of Poperinghe, 
and then to Houtkerque. On the 26th the Brigade remained 
off-saddled near St. Jans der Biezen, and at 9 p.m. marched to a 

25 



SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES 

191 5 point near Poperinghe, where the horses were picketed and a dis- 
mounted party marched into huts near Vlamertinghe. On the 27th 
these huts were shelled and also "A" echelon in Vlamertinghe. At 
9 p.m. orders were issued (but subsequently cancelled) for the 
dismounted party to move to Brielen, a report having been received 
that the Turcos were retiring in disorder over the pontoons on the 
Yser canal. The following morning the dismounted party rejoined 
the horses, and that night the Brigade marched to the St. Jans der 
Biezen area, where it remained till 2nd May. On 2nd May the 
Brigade concentrated West of Poperinghe, off-saddled, waited all 
day, and then moved into the Proven — Watou area. At 5.30 p.m. 
on 3rd May the Brigade moved to a point 2 miles South-east of 
Poperinghe, where the horses were picketed, and a dismounted party 
marched to a field West of Ypres, remaining in reserve till 5 a.m., 
during which time the British line was beino- withdrawn from 
Zonnebeke to conform with the French. On 4th May the whole 
Brigade returned to the Proven — Watou area. 

The same day Captain H. C. L. Howard (16th Lancers) 
became Brigade Major vice Major B. D. Fisher, D.S.O. 
(17th Lancers) appointed G.S.O.2, 1st Cavalry Division. 

The following afternoon a dismounted party of 500 men went 
up to Ypres to assist the 5th Corps in making defences East of 
the town. During this work, which was carried out on the Lille 
road by night, one man was killed and Lieutenant J. A. Garton 
(North Somerset Yeomanry) and R.S.M. Shakespeare (North 
Somerset Yeomanry) were wounded. This party having rejoined 
early on the morning of 6th May, the Brigade marched back to the 
Proven — Watou area, and the following day returned to Steenbecque. 

At 5.30 a.m. on 9th May, a message was received that the 
3rd Cavalry Division had been placed at the disposal of the 
2nd Army, and at 12.45 P- m * tnc Brigade (strength : 850 all ranks, 
each squadron with three officers) travelled in 34 buses to a point 
West of Vlamertinghe, from where they marched on foot to the 

26 



SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES 

huts. The ioth and iith May were spent in huts. The final 1915 
stages of the second battle of Ypres had begun, and the Cavalry, as 
often before, were called in at the critical moment. 

At 8 p.m. on 12th May, the Brigade moved on foot through 
Ypres to the railway crossing 700 yards North-west of Bellewaarde 
Farm, and took over from the 80th Infantry Brigade the line of 
trenches which ran from Bellewaarde Lake, past Bellewaarde Farm, 
to the railway line about 600 yards due North of the farm. On 
the right the North Somerset Yeomanry, with 300 rifles, occupied 
the line as far as Bellewaarde Lake, the 3rd Dragoon Guards with 
311 rifles continuing to the left. The Royals were in support in 
dug-outs in Railway Wood, where also was Brigade headquarters. 
The 6th C.F.A. established an advanced dressing station in a house 
about half-a-mile West of Bellewaarde Farm. The 7th Cavalry 
Brigade continued the line Northwards from the railway to 
Verlorenhoek (see Map 4 facing page 28). 

At 1 a.m. on 13th May, a message was received from the 
3rd Cavalry Division that the G.O.C. 5th Corps wished it to be 
clearly understood that the line now held by the 1st and 3rd Cavalry 
Divisions must be maintained at all costs, and should the enemy 
gain a footing at any point in this line, a counter-attack must at 
once be made. 

The whole position was in a very poor state of defence. Heavy 
rain had fallen during the previous twenty-four hours. The men 
were wet to the skin and caked with mud. In many places the 
trenches were shallow and needed repair. If attempts were made 
to deepen them, water appeared. The supply of sandbags had run 
out. There were no communication trenches worth speaking of. 
The wire was very inadequate and in parts of the sector non-existent. 
The support trenches were equally poor. There was no proper 
communication between the left of the 3rd Dragoon Guards and 
the right of the Leicester Yeomanry. The field of fire was every- 
where very limited. 

27 



SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES 

iQK Under these circumstances and in the time available it was 

impossible to do much, but the greatest efforts were made during 
the night to improve the trenches, to gain communication to the 
flank and generally to strengthen the position. 

At 4 a.m. a very heavy bombardment began. The 
8oth Infantry Brigade was informed by telephone, and artillery 
support asked for. By 4.45 a.m. the 3rd Cavalry Division head- 
quarters and all headquarters in the rear except the 99th Battalion 
were cut off from telephonic communication. At 5.15 a.m. the 
bombardment stopped for half-an-hour and then recommenced. 
At 7 a.m. a verbal message was received from the 3rd Dragoon 
Guards that owing to the Brigade on their left being forced back, 
their position was extremely precarious. Their line, however, 
never changed. It remained the same throughout the day. The 
Germans who appeared to have got round to the left rear were 
engaged by our men who tired over the parados. 

General Campbell despatched a staff officer to inform the 
80th Infantry Brigade and the 3rd Cavalry Division of the situation, 
and ordered the Royals to push forward two troops towards the 
high ground between Railway Wood and the advanced line, with 
a view to using it as a pivot of manoeuvre. The remainder of the 
Royals took up a covering position with two troops detached to 
watch the right flank. All these movements, which were carried 
out in the most gallant manner, took place under a terrific fire. 

At 8 a.m. a report was received from the left of the 
3rd Dragoon Guards that the enemy attack had been repulsed, but 
that our casualties had been severe. At 8.35 a.m. the North 
Somerset Yeomanry reported that after heavy shelling the enemy 
had attacked along their whole front, that the attack had been 
repulsed, but that the trenches occupied by the right squadron had 
been practically destroyed. In the event of a further attack the 
O.C. 3rd King's Royal Rifles had arranged to carry out an immediate 
counter attack. 

28 



Map illustrating positions held by 6th Cavalry Brigade during second battle of Ypres, May, 191^ 




A= Position at 4.1 5 .i.m. 13th May, lwi 
B= Position at 4.0 a.m. 14th May, 1915. 



■9»5 



SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES 

A message was despatched to the 3rd Cavalry Division saying 191 5 
that the 6th Cavalry Brigade were still holding their original line, 
but that the Leicesters had been heavily counter-attacked and forced 
to give a little ground. Reinforcements were required. This 
message never reached Divisional headquarters, and was repeated at 
1 1 a.m., when the bombardment became less. About noon the 
Germans were seen collecting in a farm in front of the line and 
later between this farm and the railway. The artillery were 
informed. 

Shortly after 1 p.m. the Royal Horse Guards arrived, and 
Lieut. -Colonel Lord Tweedmouth, D.S.O., M.V.O., reconnoitred 
the ground and consulted with General Campbell about the 
direction of his counter-attack, which was to be made in con- 
junction with the whole of the 8th Cavalry Brigade. At 
1.20 p.m. The Royal Dragoons were sent to reinforce the North 
Somerset Yeomanry, and a little later the general situation was 
explained to the G.S.O.2 of the 3rd Cavalry Division. One 
Company of the Royal Irish Fusiliers now arrived, and two platoons 
were sent forward to reinforce the 3rd Dragoon Guards. At 2 p.m. 
our artillery opened a heavier fire and at 2.30 p.m. the Blues 
counter-attacked. The objectives were reached, but all trenches 
had been entirely destroyed by the enemy's bombardment and 
afforded no cover against the terrific artillery fire which now opened 
again on the troops in the front line. At 4.25 the other two platoons 
of the Royal Irish Fusiliers were sent up. At 6.20 p.m. about 
85 reinforcements arrived for the Royals. All three officers of 
this party became casualties on the way up. At 8.4^ p.m. the 
3rd Dragoon Guards moved up about 40 yards to their left, and the 
line was held as follows : — 3rd Dragoon Guards, 50 North Somerset 
Yeomanry, 60 Royal Irish Fusiliers, 40 North Somerset Yeomanry, 
and The Royal Dragoons (in touch with 3rd King's Royal Rifles). 

It is impossible to convey any idea of the severity of the 
bombardment to which the Brigade had been subjected throughout 

29 



SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES 

1915 the day. The trenches were almost entirely obliterated early in 
the morning, and numbers of the men were practically buried alive. 
Though it was quite impossible to consolidate the position or to 
organise any regular defence in the face of this terrific fire, the 
Brigade gave no ground. In spite of desperate casualties small 
bodies of the men held on to their original position until dark. 
The enemy were unable to make any substantial advance at all. 

The 6th C.F.A. were heavily shelled throughout the day, and 
it was impossible to evacuate any wounded down the Ypres — Hooge 
road till after dark. At 1 1 p.m. the O.C. 3rd King's Royal Rifles 
received orders to take over the line from his left to Bellewaarde 
Lake, the Royal Irish Fusiliers taking over the remainder of the 
6th Cavalry Brigade line to the railway. 

This relief was completed by 2.30 a.m. on the 14th, and the 
Brigade occupied a new line which ran in a North-westerly direction 
from Railway Wood towards the Ypres — Zonnebeke road. The 
3rd Dragoon Guards (160 rifles) were on the right, the Royals 
(186 rifles) in the centre, and the 10th Hussars (80 rifles) who 
came under orders of the G.O.C. 6th Cavalry Brigade on the 
left. The North Somerset Yeomanry were placed under orders 
of the 8th Cavalry Brigade. To the left the line was continued 
by the 9th Cavalry Brigade. The trenches now held by the Brigade 
had been begun by Durham Light Infantry Territorials, who had 
only had an hour to work on them, and they were therefore shallow, 
unfinished and unconnected. 

The 14th May passed comparatively quietly. At 7 p.m. the 
3rd Dragoon Guards and The Royal Dragoons sent out a series 
of posts to cover the digging of a more advanced line which was 
to run about 400 yards beyond the one then occupied. 

At 9.30 p.m. relief by the 5th Cavalry Brigade began, and 
regiments arrived back at Vlamertinghe in the early hours of the 
1 5th May. Captain R. Houstoun (Royals) took over temporary 

30 



SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES 

command of the North Somerset Yeomanry, all the senior officers 191 5 
of that regiment having been either killed or wounded. 

On 1 6th May 12 officers and 194 other ranks came up to 
Ylamertinghe as reinforcements and a similar number returned to 
billets. During the next three days the Brigade formed Nos. 1, 2 
and 3 mobile reserve in its turn. Digging: parties under Captain 
G. R. Kevill-Davies (3rd Dragoon Guards) and Captain Hon. C. 
Annesley (Royals) worked on trenches East of Ypres on two nights. 

On 2 1 st May the Brigade returned to billets. A few days 
later reinforcements of officers and men arrived, and the regiments 
were busy reorganising. The casualties were very severe. The 
following officers were killed : — 

Brigade Headquarters: — Captain W. H. J. St. L. Atkinson 
(Royals, O.C. 6th Signal Troop). 3rd Dragoon Guards: — 
Captain T. V. T. T. Neville, Captain E. R. Coles. The 
Royal Dragoons: — Captain H. M. Lambert, Lieutenant J. H. 
Leckie, Lieutenant G. K. Bagshawe, 2nd-Lieutenant N. F. Browne. 
North Somerset Yeomanry: — Major W. R. Campbell, D.S.O. 
(14th Hussars, attached North Somerset Yeomanry), Captain S. G. 
Bates (7th Hussars, Adjutant North Somerset Yeomanry), Captain 
R. E. English. 

The following officers were wounded: — 

Brigade Headquarters: — Brigadier - General D. G. M. 
Campbell, Captain R. F. Glyn (Royals), Captain J. J. de Knoop 
(Cheshire Yeomanry). 3rd Dragoon Guards: — Lieut. -Colonel 
O. B. B. Smith-Bingham, D.S.O., Captain L. V. Owston, Captain 
C. G. Leslie, Lieutenant H. A. Grimshaw, Lieutenant J. S. Stewart. 
The Royal Dragoons: — Lieut. -Colonel G. F. Steele, C.M.G., 
Major P. E. Hardwick, Captain E. W. T. Miles, Captain Hon. 
J. H. F. Grenfell, D.S.O. , Lieutenant A. W. Waterhouse, 
Lieutenant W. Williams YVynn, 2nd-Lieutenant A. W. Ackroyd. 
North Somerset Yeomanry: — Lieut. -Colonel G. C. Glyn, D.S.O., 
Major H. G. Spencer, Major H. B. Matthews, Major G. Lubbock, 

3 1 



SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES 

191 5 Lieutenant G. E. Longrigg, 2nd-Lieutenant B. F. Hogg, 
2nd-Lieutenant L. C. Gibbs, 2nd-Lieutenant R. Willis. 

Colonel Steele and Captain Grenfell died a few days later in 
hospital — an irreparable loss to their regiment. Of the N.C.O.s 
and men 78 were killed, 217 were wounded, and 5 missing. 

The Brigade received official thanks for the part it had played 
in this, the second battle of Ypres. The value of the stand made 
by the cavalry during the desperate fighting of 13th May can hardly 
be exaggerated. Once again disaster was staved off by the cavalry 
who fought on foot and proved as good as the best infantry. 
Though the fighting may not have been so important from the 
strategical point of view as the first battle of Ypres, yet the bombard- 
ment to which our troops were subjected was far more severe. The 
preponderance of German artillery and the use of gas made it a time 
of great strain and anxiety. Though our casualties were heavy, 
those of the enemy were equally so, and the determined attempts 
he made to break through the British line were brought to a stand- 
still. The Ypres salient though diminished in size was still held 
by the Allies. 

At 1.0 p.m. on 29th May, the Brigade (strength: 39 officers, 
772 rifles, and 7 machine guns) proceeded to Vlamertinghe in 
j6 buses, and that evening moved up on foot to Ypres, taking 
over trenches from the 3rd Cavalry Brigade. The 3rd Dragoon 
Guards were astride the Ypres — Menin road nt Hooge, having one 
squadron to the North and two to the South of the road. On 
their left were the King's Dragoon Guards. The Royals were 
on the right of the 3rd Dragoon Guards in Sanctuary Wood, 
and on the right of the Royals was the 8th Cavalry Brigade. 
The North Somerset Yeomanry were in support. In the line with 
the Brigade was a Trench Mortar detachment, armed with an old 
gas pipe trench mortar. The personnel was found by "C" Battery, 
R.H.A., and was commanded by Lieutenant E. H. Mann. 
Brigadier-General C. B. Bulkeley Johnson was in command of the 

32 



SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES 

sector, Major A. Burt (3rd Dragoon Guards) commanding the left 191 5 
sub-sector, which consisted of the 6th Cavalry Brigade and 
5th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. 

The village of Hooge was surrounded by small gardens with 
outhouses and hedges. The high grass and undergrowth along 
the whole sector harboured many snipers. Sanctuary Wood was 
thick with undergrowth and lay on fairly high ground, while Zouave 
Wood, which joined it, sloped down gradually towards the North. 
Early on the morning of 31st May Lieutenant F. B. Katanakis 
(3rd Dragoon Guards) pushed forward with his troop from the 
Chateau stables towards the Chateau, from which on his approach 
several Germans bolted. But owing to the heavy shelling which 
began about 7.0 a.m. he was forced to withdraw again to the stables. 
During the day the front line held by the 3rd Dragoon Guards and 
Royals was almost blown in and the houses on the Western side 
of Hooge were destroyed. That evening, however, Lieutenant 
Katanakis again reconnoitred the Chateau and it was occupied at 
9.30 p.m. Shortly afterwards the King's Dragoon Guards arrived 
and began to dig in. 

On 1st June Lieut. -Colonel J. A. Bell-Smyth (King's Dragoon 
Guards) took over command of the left subsector from 
Major Burt. Hostile shelling was fairly heavy in the morning 
and afternoon. 

Throughout 2nd June the 3rd Dragoon Guards' trenches, 
especially South of the Ypres — Men in road, were subjected to a 
severe bombardment. Part of the line had to be temporarily 
evacuated, but was immediately re-occupied when the shelling 
stopped. At midday several parties of the enemy attempted to reach 
our lines, but were mostly killed by rifle and machine gun fire from 
both sides of Hooge. At 3.30 p.m. the enemy again attacked, 
this time moving towards the junction of the 3rd Dragoon 
Guards' and Royals' trenches, but effective fire from machine 
guns and the trench mortar on the left of the Royals' line 

33 



SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES 

i 91 5 brought them to a standstill. The 3rd Dragoon Guards, who had 
suffered heavy casualties, were relieved that night by the 
1st Lincolns, and marched to the ramparts. 

The fighting on 2nd June may be considered the last serious 
attempt of the Germans to break through our defences at Hooge. 
It was the final stage of the second battle of Ypres. 

Nothing worthy of note occurred after this date, and on the 
night of the 5th-6th June the Brigade was relieved and returned 
to permanent billets by the evening of the 6th. 

The 3rd Dragoon Guards had one officer killed, 2nd-Lieutenant 
A. C. Clifford, and four wounded, Captain G. R. Kevill-Davies, 
Captain P. D. Stewart, Lieutenant W. Black, and Lieutenant H. H. 
Dadson. 2nd-Lieutenant A. Hopkinson (Royals) was wounded, 
and also Lieutenant R. O'Kelly, R.A.M.C. (attached North Somerset 
Yeomanry). Of the other ranks, 42 were killed, 1 1 5 wounded, 
and 4 missing, by far the greater proportion belonging to the 
3rd Dragoon Guards. 

On 6th June Captain H. Boyd-Rochfort (21st Lancers) was 
appointed Brigade Major 9th Cavalry Brigade, and Captain S. G. 
Howes (21st Lancers) became Staff Captain of the 6th Cavalry 
Brigade. About this time Captain R. S. Stancliffe (2nd Life 
Guards) joined Brigade Headquarters as Brigade Signalling Officer. 

On 1 8th June Lieut.-Colonel M. R. C. Backhouse^ D.S.O., 
assumed command of the North Somerset Yeomanry. Major 
H. D. McNeile had already taken over command of The Royal 
Dragoons. 

During the two following months the Brigade remained in the 
Steenbecjque — Thiennes — Boesighem area. Large digging parties 
were sent to Neuve Eglise, Sailly, and Elverdinghe. 

At the end of July Major J. F. Lamont (on promotion) handed 
over command of " C " Battery to Captain R. C. F. Maitland. 

Early in August the Brigade moved into the area Febvin- 
Falfart, Ncdonchelle, Estree Blanche. 

34 



SECOND BATTLE OF YPRES 

On 13th August a large digging party (23 officers and 631 191 5 
other ranks) went by motor bus to Armentieres and began work 
on a line which ran from the Faubourg des Jardins to the Lys 
at Houplines. 

On 13th September Captain H. C. L. Howard (16th Lancers) 
was appointed G.S.O.2 Cavalry Corps, and Captain R. Houstoun 
(Royals) became Brigade Major of the 6th Cavalry Brigade. 



3S 



a 



CHAPTER IV. 



LOOS 

1 91 5 f """^ N 20th September the Brigade left permanent billets to 
,take part in the Loos offensive. The 3rd Cavalry 
'Division (less 7th Cavalry Brigade) came under orders 
of Sir Douglas Haig (G.O.C. 1st Army) on that day. 
The Brigade marched during the night to the Bois des 
Dames and remained there in bivouac till the 25th. 

Officers from each unit reconnoitred cavalry tracks on the 23rd. 

On the morning of the 25th September the Brigade "stood-to " 
at 5.30 a.m., and at 8.45 a.m. moved off to Vaudricourt, where it 
halted in the park of the chateau. Here the first news arrived of 
the success of the infantry attack, the capture of the first line of 
German trenches and the taking of Loos. The original attack was 
made by the 4th Corps (Sir Henry Rawlinson) : the 47th Division 
on the right, the 15th Division in the centre astride the Lens — 
Bethune road, the 1st Division on the left. 

At 11.0 a.m. the Brigade moved off at a fast pace along the 
cavalry track to Philosophe, situated at the point where the railway 
cuts the main Lens — Bethune road about 1,000 yards South of 
Vermelles. 

The situation seemed somewhat obscure, and Captain C. E. R. 
Holroyd-Smith and Lieutenant G. R. B. Harries (3rd Dragoon 
Guards) were sent on to patrol towards Loos. Captain N. K. 
Worthington and Lieutenant G. K. Benton (3rd Dragoon Guards) 
were sent out in the direction of Lone Tree, and Lieutenant Hon. 
W. H. Cubitt, Lieutenant R. B. Helme (Royals) and Captain A. B. 
Mitchell (North Somerset Yeomanry) reconnoitred cavalry routes in 
the event of the Brigade moving forward. Captain Holroyd- 
Smith's patrol reported that our infantry were engaging the enemy 
on Hill 70 and had just taken Puits 14 Bis, and Captain 

36 



LOOS 

Worthington's patrol reported our infantry were held up at Lone I 9 1 S 
Tree. They further reported that the Germans seemed to be 
surrendering freely, but that the general situation still remained 
obscure. It subsequently appeared that the Highland Brigade of 
the 15th Division had succeeded in reaching the outskirts of Cite 
St. Auguste, but were unable to hold Hill 70. The 3rd Cavalry 
Division formed the only available reserve at that time. 

The Brigade remained where it was for the night. The horses 
were picketed in the open. Officers and men had some shelter in 
a row of artisans' cottages. During the evening the 2ist and 24th 
Divisions (who with the Guards Division formed the 11th Corps) 
came up to relieve the 1st and 15th Divisions. Rain fell heavily 
all night. 

The morning of 26th September was misty and wet, but soon 
became fine. Patrols were again sent out (Lieutenant Hon. \Y. H. 
Cubitt to Bois Hugo and Lieutenant F. B. Katanakis towards the 
Quarries). 

At 11.30 a.m. the- 3rd Dragoon Guards and The Royal 
Dragoons (each about 260 rifles strong) were ordered to move 
forward dismounted and occupy the old German front line trenches 
which ran about 1,500 yards North-west of Loos. The North 
Somerset Yeomanry remained in reserve with the led horses. 

The ground between Vermelles and Loos was covered with 
all the debris of war. Our dead lay in every direction. Many 
of the men had been shot in the act of running forward and now 
lay face downwards, arms outstretched, one leg in the air. The 
wire in front of the German line was found to have been well cut 
by our artillery. The trenches, which were provided with many 
excellent dug-outs, were full of equipment, bombs, flares and gas 
cylinders. The smell of gas was still very strong. Major P. G. 
Mason, D.S.O. (3rd Dragoon Guards), was killed while in these 
trenches. 

37 



LOOS 

l 9 l 5 The situation on the afternoon of 26th September was 

extremely critical. The 24th Division, who had made what was 
at first a successful attack was obliged to give ground, and the 
21st Division, finding itself opposed by strong German reinforce- 
ments, was also driven back. These two Divisions, who were 
composed of inexperienced troops, had been called upon to march 
long distances before being thrown into their first fight. More- 
over, they had been a considerable time without rations and fresh 
water. They now became thoroughly disorganised and began to 
come back in large numbers. The Chalk Pit North of Hill 70 
was lost and also the ground towards Benifontaine and Hulluch. 
Hill 70 became a salient and our hold on it extremely precarious. 
It was quite possible that, had the enemy attempted a determined 
counter-attack, Loos itself might have been retaken. There were 
no immediate reserves except the 3rd Cavalry Division and the 
Guards Division (the latter only arrived at Philosophe about 6 p.m. 
that evening). 

It was under these circumstances that at 3 p.m. General 
Campbell was ordered to occupy Loos with two regiments, as 
the infantry appeared to be retiring, and it was uncertain 
whether the place was in our hands or not. The Brigade fixed 
bayonets and advanced by three long " bounds " down the slope 
into the village, the 3rd Dragoon Guards on the right, the 
Royals on the left. The line was shelled as it advanced, but 
there were no casualties. One shell started up a hare, which was 
caught on a bayonet by a sergeant. On the way Lieut. -Colonel 
H. D. McNeile (Royals) collected about 300 Highlanders and other 
parties of infantry, who returned to Loos and helped in its defence. 

On arrival in the village it was found that parties of our infantry 
still held the South-western and North-western entrances. The 
Brigade at once took up a position running, roughly, through the 
Eastern outskirts of the village. At about 5 p.m. 18 Germans 
came out of a farm opposite the 3rd Dragoon Guards headquarters 

38 



Map showing position held by the 6th Cavalry Brigade on the night 26th-2?th September, 191 5 (before being reinforced by the 8th Cavalry Brigade) 




Jca/e in Yarc/j 






LOOS 

and surrendered. The area round the church was heavily shelled 19 15 
that evening. 

The 6th C.F.A. established an advanced dressing station in 
the best of the houses on the Loos road just West of our old front 
line, and as soon as it was dark all available motor ambulances were 
sent down into Loos to evacuate both cavalry and infantry wounded. 

At 11.30 p.m. General Campbell, who had received orders on 
no account to vacate Loos, requested General Briggs* to send up 
the North Somerset Yeomanry in support, as the force at his disposal 
was inadequate, the infantry he had collected being hungry, 
exhausted and unfit to fio-ht. 

o 

At midnight the North Somerset Yeomanry, who earlier in 
the evening had been ordered to occupy trenches about 1,500 yards 
East of Le Rutoire, arrived at Loos and took up a position on the 
left of the Royals, joining up on their left with the Guards. 
" C " Battery was brigaded under orders of the C.R.H.A., 3rd 
Cavalry Division, and was in position near Les Brebis to cover a 
counter-attack should it succeed in penetrating to Bully Grenay. 

At 2.30 a.m. on 27th September, General Briggs arrived with 
the 8th Cavalry Brigade and took over command from General 
Campbell. The 6th Cavalry Brigade then occupied a shorter line. 
The 3rd Dragoon Guards on the right were in touch with the Blues. 
" C " Battery was in position near Fosse 7. The infantry were 
all relieved and sent back. 

At 3.45 p.m. on the afternoon of Monday, 27th September, 
the bombardment became intense on both sides, and at 4 p.m. the 
Guards Division attacked Hill 70, Puits 14 and the Chalk Pits. 
The machine guns of the Brigade supported this attack. After 

* Some months previously (on 7th May, 1915) General Brings had taken over com- 
mand of the 3rd Cavalry Division from General Byng, who now commanded the 
Cavalry Corps in place of General Allenby. General Allenby commanded the 5th 
Corps instead of General Plumer who had taken over the 2nd Army from General 
Smith Dorrien. 

39 



LOOS 

1 91 5 the attack the Guards dug in in front of Chalk Pit Wood and on 
the slopes of Hill 70. 

Throughout the night, which was very wet and dark, the 
Brigade continued to improve the defences of the village. Trenches 
were wired, roads barricaded, and work was begun on a central keep. 
Every preparation was made in case of a counter-attack, but this did 
not take place, though there was much wild firing from the enemy 
lines. At 4.30 a.m. on 28th September, Lieutenant W. O. Berryman 
(Royals) with three men went out to get the situation from Hill 70 
to the Chalk Pits, and on his return was able to give a clear report 
as to the position of the enemy. Other useful reconnaissances were 
made by 2ndTJeutenant A. W. Wingate (Royals) and 2nd- 
Lieutenant A. B. P. L. Vincent (3rd Dragoon Guards). Much 
valuable information was thus given to the Guards. 

Loos was heavily shelled before midday and in the afternoon. 

During the period the Brigade was in the village, German 
soldiers were constantly found hiding in the cellars. Some had been 
lying there wounded for two or three days, as was also the case with 
a few of our own infantry. Loos was a remarkable sight when the 
Brigade first entered it. German and British dead encumbered the 
streets. Quantities of R.E. stores and equipment of all sorts were 
found. The canteens were well stocked, and comfortable dug-outs 
littered with the belongings of their late owners proved with what 
haste the village had been vacated. Many of the cellars were 
connected up by telephone, and until they were all cleared, there 
can be no doubt that communication was maintained with the 
enemy by wounded men. One German was actually found, shortly 
after the arrival of the Brigade, operating a telephone line to the rear. 

At 3.45 p.m. on 28th September, the Guards attacked Puits 14 
from the Chalk Pits and again the machine guns of the Brigade 
co-operated. That night rain fell in torrents. At 11.30 p.m. 
relief by the infantry began, and early on 29th September the 
regiments marched back to the horses, which were just North of 

40 



LOOS 

Mazingarbe. The same day the Brigade moved back to the Bois 191 5 
des Dames, where it remained in bivouac till 3rd October. 

The garrisoning of Loos and the taking over the line East 
of that place by the 6th Cavalry Brigade and later by the rest of 
the 3rd Cavalry Division, undoubtedly saved what was a dangerous 
situation. The 1 5th Division, thoroughly tired out, had been with- 
drawn from the line and after the retirement of the 24th and 21st 
Divisions the Germans would have found practically no troops to 
oppose them, if they had made a resolute counter-attack. The 
1 cth Division was again put back and did magnificently, and the 
arrival of the dismounted cavalry steadied the whole line. 

The casualties were: — 3rd Dragoon Guards: killed, Major 
P. G. Mason; wounded, Lieut. -Colonel O. B. B. Smith-Bingham, 
Lieutenant F. B. Katanakis, 2nd-Lieutenant W. B. Hathorn; other 
ranks: killed 11, wounded 30, missing 5. The Royal Dragoons: 
killed, Captain A. H. D. Chapman; other ranks: killed, 2, 
wounded 14, missing 1. North Somerset Yeomanry: wounded, 
Major W. B. Stewart (Lothian and Border Horse, attached North 
Somerset Yeomanry), 2nd-Lieutenants E. A. Green, M. H. Tisdall, 
G. Babington, A. G. Little. Captain W. L. C. Kirby (1 2th Lancers, 
Adjutant, North Somerset Yeomanry) was also wounded; other 
ranks: wounded 11, missing 1. 

From 3rd October to 19th October the Brigade was in the 
Ferfay — Cauchy-a-la-Tour — Raimbert area. Captain R. Houstoun 
(Royals) was evacuated seriously ill from Ferfay, and Captain W. T. 
Hodgson (Royals) was shortly afterwards appointed Brigade-Major. 
On 19th October the Brigade moved into the district round Laires, 
and two days later went into permanent billets, Brigade headquarters 
being at Honinghem, and the regiments round Nedonchelle, Ligny- 
les-Aire and Amettes. The Battery was at Laires, the 6th C.F.A. 
at Cottes. 

During this month Major-General J. Yaucrhan, C.B., D.S.O., 
assumed command of the -jrd Cavalrv Division. 

41 



LOOS 

19 1 5 At the end of October reinforcements of 2 officers and 

100 other ranks arrived for the 3rd Dragoon Guards and The Royal 
Dragoons, which brought the establishment of each regiment up to 
26 officers and 651 other ranks. 

During November digging parties were sent to Sercus, 
Ouderdom and Poperinghe. Captain R. C. F. Maitland, on 
getting command of a New Army Field Battery, handed over 
command of " C " Battery to Major A. E. Erskine. 

On 17th November the Brigade moved into a new area. 
Brigade headquarters were at Royon, 3rd Dragoon Guards Offin, 
Loison, the Royals Crequy, Torcy, North Somerset Yeomanry 
Hesmond, Lebiez, " C " Battery Sains-les-Fressin, the 6th C.F.A. 
Fruges. 

During December a digging party under Major P. E. 
Hardwick (Royals) went to Lynde, where work was done on the La 
Belle Hotesse. By the end of the month all the various digging 
parties had returned to billets. 

On 20th December the Brigade suffered a very great loss by 
the death of Lieut. -Colonel H. D. McNeile (Royals), who was 
accidentally killed by a fall from his horse. 

A few days later Lieut. -Colonel F. W. Wormald, D.S.O. 
(8 th Hussars) took over command of The Royal Dragoons. 



42 



CHAPTER V 



THE HOHENZOLLERN REDOUBT 

ON 27th December orders were received to form a dis- l 9 l S 
mounted Division and to remain in billets on short 
notice. The Brigade formed a battalion known as 
the 6th Battalion. Each of the three regiments 
found a company of 320 all ranks and a machine gun 
detachment of 4 guns and 42 all ranks. Battalion headquarters was 
55 all ranks, making a total of 1,141 all ranks for the battalion. The 
7th and 8 th Cavalry Brigades formed the 7th and 8 th Battalions, under 
Lieut. -Colonel E. H. Brassey, M.V.O., and Lieut. -Colonel 
Lord Tweedmouth, D.S.O., M.V.O., respectively, and these with 
the 6th formed the 3rd Dismounted Brigade, commanded by 
Brigadier-General C. B. Bulkeley-Johnson, D.S.O. The 1st and 
2nd Cavalry divisions each found a brigade, and these with the 3rd 
formed the dismounted division, under Major-General Sir Philip 
W. Chetwode, Bt., D.S.O. 

"On 3rd January, 19 16, the 6th Battalion, under Lieut. -Colonel 1916 
A. Burt (3rd Dragoon Guards) entrained at Maresquel at 5.30 a.m. 
and left for Fouquereuil, from where it marched into Bethune and 
billeted in the Orphanage. On 4th January the Battalion moved 
into billets at Sailly-la-Bourse and remained there until 9th January. 
During these few days various digging and carrying parties were 
found. The North Somerset Yeomanry furnished a complete 
company as working party, and were billeted in Noyelles-les- 
Vermelles, being attached to the R.E.s. On 8th January the machine 
guns, brigaded under Captain J. D. Deane Drummond (Blues), moved 
into the line and the following day the 3rd Dismounted Brigade 
relieved the 1st Dismounted Brigade in Sector D. The 6th Battalion 
was in reserve, the 3rd Dragoon Guards Company being in 
Lancashire Trench, the North Somerset Yeomanrv Company at 
Vermelles, and the Royals Company at Sailly-la-Bourse. 

43 



THE HOHENZOLLERN REDOUBT 

1 91 6 On nth January the 6th Battalion relieved the 7th Battalion 

in the front line (Di sub-sector) from the Kai serin to " the 
Window." The Royal Dragoons, under Captain T. S. Irwin, 
took over from the 2nd Life Guards on the left, the 3rd Dragoon 
Guards from the 1st Life Guards on the right. The North 
Somerset Yeomanry were in support at Junction Keep and 
Lancashire Trench. The sector held by the Battalion was com- 
plicated by numerous saps and craters. The distance separating 
the two front lines varied from 1 50 to 40 yards, but in many cases 
there were not more than 20 to 25 yards between sapheads or from 
a saphead to a crater. At some points, notably round the Kink, 
the front line consisted merely of a series of saps. There was much 
mining and counter-mining. Our front line suffered little from 
hostile shelling. The chief trouble was from trench mortar and 
rifle grenade fire, and the saps were so close to each other that 
bombing attacks by both sides were of frequent occurrence. The 
whole sector was overlooked by Fosse 8, a long slag heap called 
the Dump. This Dump had been captured in the attack of 25th 
September, 19 1 5, but had been retaken by the Germans the following 
day. 

Enemy snipers were active, and the first day a party of North 
Somerset Yeomanry bombers bombed and destroyed a sniper's post 
and brought back the sniper's box. Another sniper who was in 
the habit of lying out behind a dead German was also dealt with. 

On the morning of 12th January Captain A. W. Waterhouse 
(Royals) was killed by one of the few shells that fell into the front 
line, the same shell killing a sergeant (Sergeant S. W. Futcher, 
Royals) and a sentry. 

Every night much work was done. Patrols and snipers went 
out, new wire was put up, saps improved, new support trenches 
begun, communication trenches which were unusually long (it being 
2,000 yards back to Vermelles) deepened and revetted, sniper's 
posts, listening galleries, and machine gun emplacements made. 

44 



THE HOHENZOLLERN REDOUBT 

When enemy trench mortars became unduly active they were 1916 
effectively silenced by the accurate shooting of our horse batteries. 
"C" Battery covered the sector opposite the Hohenzollern Redoubt. 
A section of guns was put out at Le Rutoire under Lieutenant 
Chapman, and was able to do some excellent work sniping. Though 
under direct observation from " the Dump " and shelled by all 
manner of enemy artillery, these guns escaped untouched for three 
weeks. 

At 8.10 p.m. on the evening of 14th January, our guns and 
trench mortars, together with rifle and hand grenades, were con- 
centrated on an enemy working party which was in the habit ot 
coming to a point near Sap 3. The enemy tried to bolt from the 
crater near Sap 2 and many were observed to fall. 

The enemy artillery then became very active for 45 minutes. 
Our batteries were extremely quick in retaliation, only taking 
6 seconds from the time they received orders to open fire. 

A proportion of our machine guns were in the front line. 
Those which were in support continually carried out indirect fire 
on the Dump, Auchy-les-la-Bassee, and other tactical points. 

On 15th January the 6th Battalion was relieved by the 
2nd Dismounted Battalion, and General Campbell took over 
command of the 3rd Dismounted Brigade three days later. General 
Vaughan also relieved General Chetwode. 

On 2 1st January the 6th Battalion went into support. 

At 6.5 a.m. on 23rd January, our engineers exploded a mine 
under the new German trench near Saps 6 and 7. Just before the 
mine was sprung the enemy were heard working in their mine only 
a few feet from our mine-head. It is believed that some enemy 
machine guns were also destroyed. The enemy succeeded in 
occupying the crater and throughout this period in the trenches, the 
6th Battalion who took over the line a few hours later experienced 
much trouble from this crater, which was only 25 yards from our 
sapheads. During 24th January we trench-mortared the crater, 

45 



THE HOHENZOLLERN REDOUBT 

j 91 6 and at 8.45 p.m. that night an officers' patrol (Captain C. E. R. 
Holroyd-Smith, 3rd Dragoon Guards) went out from Sap 6, recon- 
noitred the near edge of the crater, and pulled down several of the 
loophole plates. A second officers' patrol under Lieutenant J. G. 
Biggs (North Somerset Yeomanry) entered the crater, found it had 
been put into a strong state of defence, and brought away some arms 
and equipment for identification purposes. 

At 4 p.m. on 27th January, the Kaiser's birthday, the enemy 
opened a very heavy bombardment on our front and support lines. 
It stopped at 5.15 p.m. At 5.20 three hostile bombing parties 
emerged from the German front line in the vicinity of the Kink. 
One of these parties consisting of 5 bombers made for Sap 4. Our 
men who saw them allowed them to come on. The leading German 
lowered himself into our sap and began to advance down it. On 
rounding a bend he was killed by revolver fire : the second was 
also killed on the top of our parapet : two others were killed by 
rifle fire as they attempted to get back through our wire : the fifth 
regained his line. Another party of ten Germans advanced towards 
Sap 3. They were all exterminated by bomb and rifle fire before 
they reached this sap. Of the third party, the three leading Germans 
only had emerged from a small sap South of Bill's Bluff, when they 
were blown up by one of our shells. No more Germans emerged 
from this sap. 

On 28th January the Battalion was relieved. On 1st February 
General A. A. Kennedy took command of the 3rd Dismounted 
Brigade from General Campbell, and two days later General Mullens 
relieved General Vaughan in command of the cavalry line. 

On 2nd February the Battalion again took over the same sector 
of front line, but the situation remained extremely quiet. 
Numerous patrols were sent out and we gained complete superiority 
in sniping. On 8th February the 6th Battalion was relieved and 
returned with the remainder of the 3rd Dismounted Brigade to 
permanent billets. " C " Battery remained in the line till 

46 



Map showing trenches held by 
6th Cavalry Brigade, January and February, 191 6 



ISr^ik »*" crater ' "-»>/' >. "\. /^i ^\. 




VEfiMELLES 
about /OOOydi 



j THE i 

1 QUAffft/ES J 

\ f J / 

//// 



r\ 







/ 






THE HOHENZOLLERN REDOUBT 

28th February, and then had a very difficult march back to Sains- 191 6 
les-Fressin, owing to snow and frost. 

Casualties suffered by the Battalion during this period were : — 
}rd Dragoon Guards : other ranks, 6 killed, 21 wounded, 1 died of 
wounds. The Royal Dragoons : Captain A. W. Waterhouse killed, 
Lieutenant R. B. Helme wounded; other ranks, n killed, 
■59 wounded, 5 died of wounds. North Somerset Yeomanry : other 
ranks, 3 killed, 1 <; wounded, 1 died of wounds. Brigade Head- 
quarters : Captain G. Sartorius (6th Cavalry), brigade machine gun 
(Royals) became Brigade Major of the 6th Cavalry Brigade. 



47 




CHAPTER VI. 



THE SOMME 

1 91 6 f ™^^ N 29th February the machine gun section (4 guns) 
I was withdrawn from each of the three regiments, 
'and the 6th Machine Gun Squadron was formed as 
a separate unit for training, discipline and employ- 
ment in the field. 

The advisability of forming Cavalry Machine Gun Squadrons 
had been under discussion for some time. The infantry had found 
machine gun companies an advantage in every way. Owing to 
the development of indirect fire machine gunnery was rapidly 
becoming a highly complicated and expert business. With regard 
to the cavalry, there can be no doubt that as far as training and 
dismounted trench warfare were concerned, the creation of machine 
gun squadrons was most useful. But in open warfare it was 
generally found necessary to allot a certain number of guns to 
each regiment in accordance with the importance of its mission and 
thus the machine gun squadron was generally broken up before the 
battle began. 

The strength of the Squadron on formation was 7 officers, 
213 other ranks, 299 horses, and 12 guns. The officers were 
Captain G. Sartorius (6th Cavalry) (in command), Lieutenant 
H. P. Holt, Lieutenant S. B. Horn (3rd Dragoon Guards) 
Lieutenant J. B. Bickersteth, Lieutenant A. R. Cooper (Royals), 
Lieutenant M. H. Tisdall, and Lieutenant F. B. Ratcliffe (North 
Somerset Yeomanry). The Squadron went into billets at Offin. 

During the next few weeks the Brigade remained in billets 
and continued training. 

On 1 st May the North Somerset Yeomanry and the 
6th Machine Gun Squadron marched to Le Touquet, and went 
under canvas near the golf links. Permission to form this camp 

48 



THE SOMME 

had been obtained in order that the regiments of the Brigade in 191 6 
turn might make use of the sands for drill and shooting. 

On 15th May the Brigade marched to St. Riquier and took 
part in five days of very strenuous divisional training. Cavalry 
were allowed to ride all over the training area, about six miles square, 
regardless of crops. The weather was extremely hot. 

On 2 1 st May the Brigade, less "C" Battery who remained 
divisionalised at St. Riquier, returned to permanent billets. Major 
A. E. Erskine left the Battery at St. Riquier, and Major the Hon. 
H. R. Scarlett took over command. 

On 22nd May Brigadier General D. G. M. Campbell was 
appointed to command the 21st Division, and the following day 
Lieut. -Colonel A. E. W. Harman, D.S.O. (Queen's Bays), who 
had for some time been in command of the 1 8th Hussars, took over 
the 6th Cavalry Brigade. 

On 24th May the 3rd Dragoon Guards and the 6th Machine 
Gun Squadron marched to the Le Touquet camp, and a few 
days later the Royals moved to Fressin and " C " Battery 
returned from St. Riquier and went into billets at Wambercourt. 
On 6th June the Royals took over the camp at Le Touquet 
from the 3rd Dragoon Guards, and on 12th June the Machine Gun 
Squadron returned from Le Touquet and went into billets at Cavron- 
St. -Martin. On 1 7th June Captain Sartorius ceased to command 
the 6th Machine Gun Squadron, Lieutenant H. P. Holt (3rd 
Dragoon Guards) temporarily taking over command. 

All units of the Brigade were ordered to concentrate in billets 
by 22nd June. 

At 8.15 p.m. on 24th June, the Brigade, marching by night, 
began a four days' trek by way of Domvaast and St. Leger-le- 
Domart to the Somme area. The Brigade arrived at Bonnay at 
5.0 a.m. on the morning of the 27th, after a very wet march. 

The Somme offensive was to have begun on 29th June, but 
at 5.30 p.m. on 28th June, orders were received that it had been 

49 



THE SOMME 

1 9 1 6 postponed for 48 hours. On 29th June Captain F. King 
(4th Hussars) took over command of the 6th Machine Gun 
Squadron. On 30th June "A" Squadron (Royals), under Captain 
E. W. T. Miles, moved off to join the 19th Infantry Division as 
divisional cavalry. 

On 1st July the Brigade was saddled up in bivouac at 7.30 a.m. 
and ready to move immediately. Although the British attack, which 
extended from Gommecourt in the North to Maricourt in the South, 
was successful (especially about Fricourt where General Campbell's 
2 1 st Division did good work), the initial advance was not such as 
to warrant the hope of cavalry being used at this stage, and at 
1 2 noon came orders that the Brigade was on two hours' notice, and 
then that it would not be needed that day. The Brigade remained 
on short notice at Bonnay till the morning of 4th July, when it moved 
to the Merelissart — Allery — Wiry area, a trek of ^6 kilometres. 

On 6th July one officer and 58 other ranks from the dismounted 
squadrons of each regiment went by rail from Longpre to Mericourt 
to help clean up the battlefield, under the 1 5th Corps. 

On the afternoon of 8 th July the Brigade marched back to 
Corbie, arriving there in the early hours of 9th July, and the same 
day moved on into camp at Vaux-sur-Somme. 

On 14th July the British attack on the German main second 
line was launched, and the Brigade stood-to at half-an-hour's notice 
from 4.0 a.m. Readiness to move at 4 hours' notice was required 
during the next few days, and on 19th July the Brigade moved to 
La Neuville. 

On 25th July a party of 8 officers and 277 other ranks, under 
Lieut. -Colonel F. W. Wormald, D.S.O., proceeded to Becourt to 
work at trenches in the neighbourhood of Contalmaison under the 
3rd Corps, and two days later a party of the same strength proceeded 
to the same place to dig on the Mametz — Contalmaison line. The 
weather was unusually fine and hot. 

50 



THE SOMME 

On 29th July three detachments of 4 guns each from the 19 16 
6th Machine Gun Squadron rode up to Becourt (the horses returning 
to La Neuville), and the following day went up to Mametz and 
Bazentin-le-Petit Woods, where they started to construct strong 
points, with orders to garrison them when made. Severe fighting 
was in progress round High Wood, and the positions held by all 
three detachments were very exposed. Captain King visited all 
guns and every effort was made to dig in as quickly as possible 
and strengthen the general defence system. At intervals during 
the afternoon and evening there was heavy shelling by the Germans, 
but fortunately the squadron had few casualties. Captain King 
was fortunate in not being killed, as a dump, near which were his 
headquarters, received a direct hit and blew up. 

On 1st August the Brigade moved West, billeting near Soues, 
and on 2nd August went into billets three kilometres North-west 
of Abbeville. Two days later, spending one night at Maintenay 
and Roussent, the Brigade returned to the Royon area. 

On 8th August a party of snipers (1 officer, 9 other ranks) went 
to Arras and were attached to the 64th Infantry Brigade 
(21st Division) in the line. 

On 13th August 4 officers and r8o other ranks proceeded by 
lorry to the 2nd Corps area to lay cables, and at the end of the 
month were relieved by a party of similar strength. 

On 27th August 12 guns of the 6th Machine Gun Squadron 
proceeded by lorry to Bouzincourt and were attached to the 
2nd Corps. They went into the line three days later. Four guns 
(Lieutenant S. B. Horn and Lieutenant G. H. Eaton) took up a 
position in Prospect Row overlooking Hamel and Thiepval Wood. 
Four guns (Lieutenant J. B. Bickersteth and Lieutenant A. R. 
Cooper) were in the front and support lines 200 yards from Thiepval. 
The trenches in this sector were under direct enfilade fire from 
Schwaben redoubt. These four guns were attached to the 
49th Division and took an active part in a general infantry attack 

51 



v ^ * 



THE SOMME 

1 91 6 extending from Beaumont-Hamel to the " Wunderwerk." This 
attack, which was put off three times owing to bad weather, finally 
took place on 3rd September. All guns in the Squadron co-operated. 
The barrage which started at 5.10 a.m. was tremendous, but the 
opposition all along the line was very strong, especially opposite 
Thiepval, where no substantial advance was made. 

On 7th September the 6th Machine Gun Squadron and all 
working parties concentrated in permanent billets, and three days 
later the Brigade began another long trek to the Somme area, arriving 
at La Chaussee on 12th September. Operation orders for the 
attack of 15th September were issued, and on 14th September the 
Brigade camped near Bussy, moving the following day to a point 
just South-west of Bonnay. 

On 15th September Tanks were used for the first time. Flers 
and Martinpuich were taken, and our line was advanced towards 
Geudicourt, Lesboeufs and Morval. The Brigade stood-to at half- 
an-hour's notice, but on 1 6th September moved into bivouac South 
of Pont Noyelles. For the next three days it rained steadily, and 
the state of the camp became very bad. During this period the 
Brigade found a working party of 330 all ranks for work on tracks 
towards Flers and Geudicourt. On 15th September Captain A. W. 
Phipps was in charge of a party of 2^0 men for this purpose, and 
arrived on Windmill Ridge the moment the attack started. In 
spite of heavy shelling tracks were constructed as far as Flers. The 
party had 40 casualties. 

On 22nd September the Brigade began a three days' trek North, 
arriving in the Douriez area on 24th September, and by the middle 
of October were billeted at Verton, Rang-de-Fliers, St. Josse and 
Merlimont. 

On 2nd October a party of 4 officers and 126 other ranks 
proceeded to Bouzincourt to work under the Reserve Army, being 
relieved on 20th October by a similar number. The following day 

52 



THE SOMME 

" C " Battery marched to Le Ponchel and, coming under orders of 1 9 1 6 
C.R.H.A., 3rd Cavalry Division, moved up to take part in the Ancre 
offensive. The attack on Beaumont-Hamel and St. Pierre Divion 
was postponed several times owing to bad weather. At Zero on the 
day of the offensive, the Battery, which was in position near Mesnil, 
fired a barrage on the sector attacked by the 1 8th Division, later 
switching on to the 63rd Divisional front. At 10 a.m. the Battery 
moved on to Hamel, but were unable to advance owing to numerous 
machine gun nests. The following day the Battery took up a 
position West of Hamel village and remained there for five days, 
when they were withdrawn from the line, and rejoined the 
6th Cavalry Brigade on 24th November, being billeted at Roussent. 

On 23rd October Major W. T. Hodgson (Royals) was 
appointed G.S.O.2, 1st Cavalry Division, and on 28th October 
Captain S. G. Howes (21st Lancers) became Brigade Major of the 
6th Cavalry Brigade. 

On 7th November Captain J. Blakiston-Houston (nth 
Hussars) joined the Brigade as Staff Captain. 

About the middle of December " C " Battery marched to Aire, 
where it joined the 1st Army Artillery School as depot Battery. 
The Battery was engaged in training New Army officers and men, 
and also the Portuguese. Great attention was paid to turn-out. 
The guns were also painted in the then new camouflage colours by 
a camouflage artist. 

The 6th Cavalry Pioneer Battalion, under Lieut. -Colonel 
M. R. C. Backhouse, D.S.O. (North Somerset Yeomanry) left for 
Maresquel on 20th December and proceeded from there by rail 
to Acheux for work under the 1 3th Corps (strength, 26 officers, 
823 other ranks). 

On 22nd December the Brigade exchanged its billeting area 
with the 8th Cavalry Brigade, moving to Maresquel, Aix-en-Issart, 
Aubin-St.-Vaast and Offin. 

S3 



THE SOMME 

191 7 Early in January, 19 17, the pioneer battalion moved to 

Doullens, where they worked at double tracking the railway. 

On 30th January 5 officers and 87 other ranks of the 
6th Machine Gun Squadron left by lorry for Villers-au-Bois, where 
they were attached to the 1st Canadian Corps. They went into 
the line near the Vimy Ridge on 1st February, and remained there 
throughout that month. Squadron Headquarters were at 
Cabaret Rouge. Much indirect fire was done and the squadron 
was constantly co-operating in small raids. Early on the 
morning of 1st March they took part in an important raid which, 
after a discharge of a new kind of gas, was carried out by two 
Canadian battalions. The raid was not a success owing to the 
Germans being forewarned of the gas, which was not as deadly as 
had been hoped. The following day this party returned to 
permanent billets. 

On 1 6th March the 6th Cavalry Pioneer Battalion rejoined 
the Brigade from Doullens. " C " Battery also returned from Aire. 
About the same time Lieut. -Colonel G. H. A. Ing, D.S.O. (Queen's 
Bays), assumed command of the North Somerset Yeomanry. 

At the beginning of this month the Germans began their retreat 
from the Somme — Oise front. The week I2th-i9th March saw 
the taking of Baghdad, the Russian revolution, and the occupation of 
Bapaume. 

On 2 1 st March the Reverend Arthur Helps joined the Brigade 
as Chaplain and served with it for the next nine months. 

On 25th March a working party under Captain U. E. C. 
Carnegy (3rd Dragoon Guards) — strength, 4 officers, 120 other 
ranks — went by lorry to Arras, and two days later were reinforced 
by four more officers and 100 other ranks. This party was occupied 
in preparing a cavalry track. 



54 



Map showing position of 6th Cavalry Brigade, afternoon and evening of April nth, 1917 




CHAPTER VII. 



ARRAS 

ON 5th April the Brigade concentrated in the area 1 9 1 7 
Ecquemicourt — Plumoison, thus allowing divisional 
headquarters and the 7th Cavalry Brigade to come into 
close quarters from the West. On 7th April the Brigade 
moved to Vacquerie and Fortel, and the following day 
marched by way of Rebreuviette to Fosseux. 

The Arras offensive was launched at 5.30 a.m. on 9th April. 
The attack, which was made by the 3rd and 1st Armies, was on a 
front of 1 5 miles from Croisilles South-east of Arras to the Northern 
foot of the Vimy Ridge. East of Arras the first and second line 
had been captured by 12 noon, but determined resistance at 
Observation Ridge delayed the bringing up of our artillery, and this 
affected our attack on Monchy-le-Preux on the afternoon of 
roth April. 

The Brigade stood-to at 5.30 a.m. on 9th April, and at 
10.30 a.m. marched through Wanquetin to a point near Duisans. 
"A" Squadron (3rd Dragoon Guards) joined the 8th Cavalry Brigade 
in order to be sufficiently in advance to prepare crossings over the 
Wancourt — Feuchy line. At 2.30 p.m. the Brigade moved to the 
concentration area just West of Arras and at 4.30 p.m., following 
the 8 th Cavalry Brigade, passed through Arras and on to the Cavalry 
Track, which was marked by flags (light blue and dark blue 
diagonally) and halted near the Cemetery East of Arras. 
"A" Squadron (3rd Dragoon Guards) rejoined the Brigade at 
8.0 p.m., and at 11.30 the same evening the Brigade moved back 
to bivouac in the open fields West of Arras. That night the 
weather, which till then had been fine, broke, and a bitter wind, 
heavy squalls of sleet and driving snow made conditions very bad. 

At 10.30 a.m. on 10th April, the Brigade moved forward 
through Arras, halting for two hours East of the town. 

SS 



ARRAS 

i 9 1 j "A" Squadron (3rd Dragoon Guards) had previously gone forward 
again to prepare four crossings over the Wancourt — Feuchy line. 
Colonel Burt sent two officers' patrols to get touch with the infantry 
at La Bergere and Monchy-le-Preux. 

At about 3 p.m. the 6th and 8th Cavalry Brigade, with "C" and 
"G" Batteries moved forward to the valley along which runs the 
Feuchy — Feuchy Chapel road. Here they came under slight 
shelling, which caused a few casualties in men and horses. This 
ground had been won during the previous night. During the 
afternoon driving snowstorms accompanied by an icy wind, swept 
across the country at frequent intervals. At 7 p.m., the advance 
having been postponed owing to the necessity of a fresh attack on 
Monchy, the Brigade moved back about 2,000 yards and bivouacked 
for the night. It was found impossible to picquet the horses owing 
to the mud and shell holes. There was no shelter of any kind, and 
nothing warm to eat or drink could be made. Most of the night 
it snowed. 

At 5.30 a.m. on 11th April, the 3rd Dragoon Guards, with 
one sub-section of machine guns and one section of " C " Battery, 
R.H.A., moved up to a point about 500 yards North-west of Feuchy 
Chapel. Officers' patrols were continually sent out to keep touch 
with the infantry at La Bergere and Monchy, and an officer's patrol 
was also sent to act as permanent liaison with the 8th Cavalry Brigade 
who were just to the North of the 6th Brigade. 

At 8.0 a.m. the 112th Infantry Brigade, with whom Major 
H. A. Tomkinson (Royals) was acting as liaison officer (till he was 
wounded) reported La Bergere and Monchy-le-Preux to be clear 
of the enemy, but the situation was very obscure. 

Accordingly, the 6th and 8 th Brigades were ordered to advance. 
At 8.30 a.m. the 3rd Dragoon Guards and the Essex Yeomanry 
moved forward over the Feuchy trenches parallel to each other. 
Colonel Burt sent forward " B " Squadron (Captain C. E. R. 
Holroyd-Smith, M.C.) to seize, with one intermediate bound, 

5« 



ARRAS 

the first objective, which was the ridge South of Monchy. 19 17 
" C " Squadron (Major G. T. Cliff) followed " B " Squadron 
and took up a position on its right, the approximate line then being 
from the Southern end of Monchy village to the windmill just West 
of La Bergere. The right of " C " Squadron was in touch with 
the infantry — about 50 men of the North Lancashire Regiment — at 
La Bergere. Both these Squadrons came under heavy shell and 
machine gun fire from Guemappe and suffered a good many 
casualties, Lieutenant Newton-Deakin being killed. During their 
advance the Germans, who were seen digging in on the ridge, 
retired. At about 9.30 a.m. "A" Squadron (3rd Dragoon Guards) 
took up a position some 300 yards North-east of Les Fosses farm. 

Meanwhile the Essex Yeomanry moved forward towards 
Monchy from the West, followed by the 10th Hussars who entered 
by the road leading round the northern edge of the village. They 
came under heavy fire from the North during their advance. These 
regiments immediately took up positions to the South-east, East, 
and North of Monchy. Thus the line held by the 6th and 8th 
Brigades extended from La Bergere in the South to the Northern 
extremity of Monchy. It is clear that Monchy was not held by 
the infantry, when the cavalry arrived, only scattered parties of the 
1 nth and 112th Brigades being found at isolated points. 

During these operations Brigadier-General C. B. Bulkeley- 
Johnson, D.S.O. (8th Cavalry Brigade), was killed, and Lieut. - 
Colonel P. E. Hardwick, D.S.O. (10th Hussars, formerly second 
in command of The Royal Dragoons) was severely wounded. 

The remainder of the Brigade, with Brigade headquarters 
slightly in advance, had meanwhile moved up to the North-west 
slope of the high ground East of Feuchy Chapel. 

At 9.15 a.m. General Harman ordered another section of 
" C " Battery to reinforce the 3rd Dragoon Guards. As the right 
flank of the 3rd Dragoon Guards was exposed and the enemy were 
threatening a counter-attack from Guemappe, Colonel Burt sent one 

57 



ARRAS 

1 9 1 7 troop with two Hotchkiss rifles to strengthen the infantry at 
La Bergere. 

At 12 noon a 3rd Cavalry Division aeroplane reported that the 
enemy were entrenching on the line St. Rohart's factory — Keeling 
Copse — Pelves, and orders were received that the 6th and 8th 
Brigades were to send their horses back and hold the line they had 
then reached with Hotchkiss rifles and machine guns. 

At 1.30 p.m. General Harman ordered the two sections of 
" C " Battery to withdraw, as their position, which was very exposed, 
had been discovered by a hostile aeroplane. " C " Battery, under 
Major Hon. H. R. Scarlett, then took up a position about a thousand 
yards East of Feuchy Chapel, and fire was directed on the Bois du 
Vert and on the road East of La Bergere. Observation was 
very difficult owing to heavy snow storms. At about 2 p.m. the 
led horses of the 8th Cavalry Brigade and of the 3rd Dragoon 
Guards began to come back. Heavy shrapnel fire which followed 
them up caught "A" Squadron of the Royals and caused considerable 
casualties both in men and horses. 

At 2.30 p.m. Colonel Burt reported that his flanks were very 
weakly held, and that the enemy were advancing 1,000 yards 
East of La Bergere. General Harman therefore ordered one 
squadron of the North Somerset Yeomanry (Major R. A. West) 
with two sub-sections of machine guns to go forward dismounted 
and support the right flank of the 3rd Dragoon Guards. This 
was done, two troops and the machine gun sub-sections taking up 
a position South of the Cambrai road, where about 25 men of 
different infantry battalions had been organised into a defence post 
by a private of the 6th Bedfords. 

Meanwhile, the remainder of the Brigade were waiting in the 
valley just West of Feuchy Chapel. About 5.30 p.m. the enemy 
began to search this low ground with great accuracy, "A" Squadron 
of the Royals again suffering casualties. 

58 



ARRAS 

About 7 p.m. the Royals and details of the 8th Brigade 191 7 
moved back by the cavalry track to Arras. The cavalry track 
was almost impassable owing to the mud, and several horses were so 
exhausted that having got thoroughly bogged they could not be 
extricated. The remainder of the Brigade followed during the 
night, having been relieved South of Monchy by the 12th Division. 
The horse ambulances of the 6th C.F.A. went up to Les Fosses Farm 
after dark and evacuated both cavalry and infantry wounded. The 
whole Brigade bivouacked on the race-course West of Arras. An 
icy gale and a blizzard of snow blew all night. There was no shelter 
of any kind. 

At 10.30 a.m. on 12th April, the Brigade moved back to billets 
at Fosseux, and four days later marched into an area just West of 
Auxi-le-Chateau. 

During these operations good work was done by the 6th Dis- 
mounted Company under Captain U. E. C. Carnegy (3rd Dragoon 
Guards) which had left Maresquel on 25th March. After four 
days' work on the cavalry track from the Rue d' Amiens (in Arras) 
to the front line, the party was ordered to begin making a track 
immediately North of the Cambrai road. On the morning 
of the attack they waited in assembly trenches West of the 
cemetery, and as soon as the infantry had gone on completed 
the track through the enemy first line system by 2.0 p.m. 
The following morning the party followed up the infantry attack 
on Orange Hill, and the track was ready as far as that point 
by 10.^0 a.m. On 13th April they cleared Monchy-le-Preux of 
200 wounded belonging to the 8th Brigade. A large party of 
bearers from the 6th C.F.A. gave valuable assistance in this work. 

The casualties during these operations were : — Brigade Head- 
quarters : other ranks, 3 wounded. 3rd Dragoon Guards : officers, 
Lieutenant C. H. Newton-Deakin (killed), 2nd-Lieutenants M. V. T. 
Mott, D. A. S. F. Cole (wounded), M. H. Dulson (wounded and 
missing, since reported killed); other ranks, 18 killed, 75 wounded, 

59 



ARRAS 

191-7 3 missing. The Royal Dragoons: officers, Major H. A. 
Tomkinson (wounded); other ranks, 2 killed, 28 wounded. North 
Somerset Yeomanry : officers, Major W. A. Kennard, D.S.O. 
(13th Hussars: attached North Somerset Yeomanry), Lieutenant 
S. W. Applegate, M.C., 2nd-Lieutenants K. G. Jenkins, J. H. 
Hewes (wounded); other ranks, 5 killed, 17 wounded. "C" Battery, 
R.H.A. : other ranks, 3 killed, 16 wounded. 6th Machine Gun 
Squadron : officers, Lieutenant A. R. Cooper, 2nd-Lieutenant C. G. 
Lowden (wounded); other ranks, 3 killed, 4 wounded. The 
3rd Dragoon Guards had 190 horses killed. 

It would be difficult to conceive of worse weather for important 
operations. Numbers of men in the Brigade, after having been 
out in the open for three nights in the snow, had to be evacuated 
suffering from exposure. The horses suffered even more than the 
men. Every night they stood out in the driving snow up to their 
hocks in mud and slush. On one occasion it was impossible to 
water them for close on 48 hours. It was, however, extraordinary 
how quickly they picked up after a week's rest and care. 

On 19th April the Brigade moved into the Maintenay — Vron — 
Nempont area. On 23rd April a Gotha machine with compass out 
of order came down near Vron. The occupants, two officers and 
one N.C.O., succeeded in partially burning one of the engines before 
they were taken prisoners by a Royals' exercise party which happened 
to be passing at the time. 

Three hundred riding horses arrived from Boulogne on 
^oth April, thus making the Brigade up to strength after the losses 
at Arras. On 5th May the Corps Commander presented medal 
ribands at Petit Preaux. On qth May the Brigade held a Horse 
Show at Petit Preaux. 



60 



CHAPTER VIII. 



EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE 



— < HE 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Cavalry Divisions having 191 7 
been ordered to concentrate in the area East and South 
of Peronne, the Brigade left billets on 12th May, and 
after three days' trek arrived at Bussy-les-Daours. 
" C " Battery left the Brigade here and joined the 
2nd Cavalry Division. 

On 17th May the Brigade moved to Bayonvillers and 
Harbonnieres, and next day marched into camp just North of the 
village of Buire, 4 miles East of Peronne. The whole of this area 
had been evacuated by the Germans in their retreat to the Hinden- 
burg Line two months before. It was a fine, open, undulating 
country, almost entirely grass land, and affording wonderful grazing 
for the horses. Every village had been systematically destroyed by 
the enemy before they retired and all civilians removed. The 
Brigade camp was well situated on ground sloping down to the 
Cologne river. Officers and men made themselves bivouacs from 
material taken from old German dug-outs in the neighbourhood. 
On the night of 21st May "C" Battery went into action 
near Ronssoy. About this time Lieutenant R. Lakin (Oxfordshire 
Hussars) became A.D.C. to General Harman, in place of Lieutenant 
S. Ricardo (General List), who was evacuated sick. 

On 2 ^rd May the 6th and 7th Cavalry Brigades began to relieve 
portions of the 3rd and 5th Cavalry Brigades in Sector D of the 
cavalry corps front. The trench line taken over extended from 
Tombois Farm (exclusive) in the South to Pigeon Quarry (500 yards 
East of the junction of Pigeon and Targelle ravine) in the north. 
This front was divided into sub-sectors, Di and D2 (the boundary 
between them being a sunk road North of Catelet Copse), and had 
three main lines of defence, the Outpost, Intermediate (Green), and 

61 



EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE 

1 9 1 y Second (Brown) lines. The intermediate line eventually consisted 
of the posts Meath, Limerick, Kildare, Heythrop, Grafton, which 
were joined up to form a continuous trench system. The Brown line 
ran East of Ep6hy. Sector headquarters was in a railway embank- 
ment immediately East of Epehy. 

The Brigade took over Di sub-sector, and by the morning of 
the 25th May one-and-a-half squadrons of the Royals were in the 
Birdcage under Captain H. M. P. Hewett, the 3rd Dragoon Guards 
in the Intermediate line, the remainder of the Royals in support to 
the 3rd Dragoon Guards, and the North Somerset Yeomanry in the 
Second line. Two Vickers guns, subsequently three, were put into 
the Birdcage, the rest being in the Intermediate line, with two in 
reserve. Colonel Burt was in command of the sub-sector and 
General Harman of the sector. The artillery, consisting of 
" C " and " K " Batteries, two Field Batteries and one Howitzer 
Battery, were under Lieut. -Colonel A. R. Wainewright, and the 
machine guns (6th and 7th Machine Gun Squadrons) were in charge 
of Major F. King. 

The whole sector was quiet with the exception of the Bird- 
cage, which was subjected daily to Trench Mortar fire, and Petit 
Priel farm which was continually shelled. The Birdcage was in a 
very isolated position and could only be approached by night. The 
wire was thin and the trenches were shallow and unfinished. 

Ossus Wood and the area round the outposts were patrolled 
almost every night, and work was at once begun on strengthening 
the Birdcage and improving the Intermediate line. 

About 2.0 a.m. on 28th May, the enemy made a raid on the 
communication trench (about 400 yards long), which ran from the 
Quarry to the Birdcage. The North Somerset Yeomanry, who 
had relieved the Royals that night, succeeded in driving off 
a large party of Germans, but Corporal Dunn (North Somerset 
Yeomanry), who was on his way down the trench with a broken 

62 



Map to illustrate section of line held by 6th Cavalry Brigade, May and June, igi ~. 8 



. T argelie "Ravine 




EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE 

telephone in his hand, was captured by the raiding party and taken 1917 
to the German line. 

On the evening of 1st June relief by the 8th Cavalry Brigade 
began and was completed by the morning of the 3rd. Lieut. -Colonel 
Lord Tweedmouth took over command of Di sub-sector and 
General Portal relieved General Harman. During these nine days 
much work had been done. The Birdcage and its communication 
trench were wired and greatly improved, and in the Intermediate 
line all the redoubts were strengthened, new machine gun emplace- 
ments made, and dug-outs begun. 

The Brigade marched back to camp at Buire and took over 
duties ot Reserve Brigade. 

By the morning of 12th June the Brigade had relieved the 
7th Cavalry Brigade in D2 sub-sector, General Seymour taking over 
command of D sector from General Portal the same day. One- 
and-a-half squadrons of the Royals were in the outpost line, 
the ^rd Dragoon Guards in the Intermediate line, the remainder 
of the Royals being in support, and the North Somerset 
Yeomanry in the Second line. The Machine Gun Squadron had 
one gun in No. 1 Post and one in No. 3 Post, the rest (except two 
in reserve) were doing S.O.S. and barrage fire from the Intermediate 
line. " C " Battery took over " K " Battery's positions near Epehy, 
and during the next ten days took part in several raids done by the 
cavalry, the most notable of which was that done by the Greys on 
Guillemont Farm and by the Royals on enemy posts between Ossus 
and Canal Woods. 

Much work was done at night. The trenches were widened, 
deepened and revetted, tactical rays of wire were put out, a new Sub- 
sector headquarters with " elephant " dug-outs was begun in Pigeon 
Ravine, and communication trenches from the Barricade to No. 1 
Post were started. 

Officers' patrols went out every night from one of the outposts. 
The distance separating our own and the enemy outposts was about 
800 yards. g 



EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE 

1 9 1 7 At i .30 a.m. on 1 5th June, an enemy patrol attempted to bomb 

one of our wiring parties in front of No. 1 Post, but were driven off. 
Regiments relieved each other every six days in the outpost line. 

Our artillery constantly shelled Ossus Wood, Vendhuille and 
La Terriere, and the machine guns carried out indirect harassing 
fire on cross roads and other tactical points. 

On 2 1 st June the enemy in two parties attempted to raid the 
Birdcage, occupied at that time by the Leicester Yeomanry : one 
party was driven off by rapid fire, the other was caught by its 
own T.M. barrage. Three wounded Germans were brought in 
and seven dead, including an officer, were left in our wire. 

On 22nd June General Harman relieved General Seymour. 

Early on the morning of 25th June a raid was carried out on 
the enemy outposts between Canal Wood and Ossus Wood. The 
raiding party, which was divided into two, consisted of 100 all 
ranks, all of whom were Royals except a few men from the 
3rd Dragoon Guards and North Somerset Yeomanry who were 
among the Scouts, and six men from the 3rd Field Squadron who 
were responsible for the Bangalore torpedoes. 

The right party under Lieutenant R. H. W. Henderson 
(with Lieutenant J. S. Dunville in charge of the advance scouts) 
attacked South of the road which led from No. 3 Post to Ossus 
Wood, and the left party under Lieutenant R. B. Helme (with 
Lieutenant V. C. Rice, North Somerset Yeomanry, in charge of the 
advance Scouts) attacked to the North of it. Lieutenant J. B. 
Bickersteth was in charge of the Hotchkiss rifles and covering party. 

The march across No Man's Land, a distance of about 
750 yards was made on a compass bearing, each party moving 
separately. Dense thistles as high as a man's head increased the 
difficulty of keeping direction. A tape was laid in order to assist 
the return journey. Both parties lay up about 200 yards from the 
enemy's wire until the barrage started at zero (1.10 a.m.) and then 
moved forward with the barrage. From the first there was consider- 

64 



EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE 

able opposition, and each party came under heavy rifle and trench 19 17 
mortar fire. After being delayed some minutes by an extra belt 
of wire, the right party reached the enemy's main wire. A 
Bangalore torpedo was put in position, but at first failed to go off", 
thus causing still further delay. By the time the actual trenches 
were reached, the scheduled time limit was almost up. Several 
Germans, however, were killed before the party was forced to with- 
draw in order to escape our own barrage. 

The left party cut the first belt of wire and prepared to blow 
up the main belt, but found some white posts marking a track into 
the enemy trenches. They entered by this track. A considerable 
number of Germans were killed and a machine gun in a shell hole was 
destroyed. Lieutenant Rice had his arm broken by a bullet, but 
killed two Germans and carried on till completion of the raid. One 
prisoner was taken, but died before he could be got in. Several 
identifications were procured, showing the enemy to belong to the 
2nd Battalion 124th Infantry Regiment. Unfortunately, during 
this raid Lieutenant Helme was killed and Lieutenant Dunville so 
severely wounded that he died in hospital two days later. 

The casualties during this period in the trenches were: — 
3rd Dragoon Guards : officers, 2nd-Lieutenant T. P. Brill 
(wounded) ; other ranks, 2 killed, 7 wounded. The Royal 
Dragoons : officers, Lieutenant R. B. Helme (killed), 2nd-Lieutenant 
J. S. Dunville (died of wounds) and 2nd-Lieutenant C. C. H. 
Hilton-Green (wounded); other ranks, 2 killed, 19 wounded, 
2 missing. North Somerset Yeomanry: officers, 2nd-Lieutenant 
V. C. Rice (wounded); other ranks, 10 wounded, 1 missing. 

Second-Lieutenant J. S. Dunville (Royals) was awarded the 

Victoria Cross for his work during this raid. The official 

account is as follows : — " For most conspicuous bravery. When 

" in charge of a party consisting of scouts and Royal Engineers 

" engaged in the demolition of the enemy's wire, this officer displayed 

" great gallantry and disregard of all personal danger. In order to 

65 



EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE 

1 9 1 7 " ensure the absolute success of the work entrusted to him, Second- 
" Lieutenant Dunville placed himself between a non-commissioned 
" officer of the Royal Engineers and the enemy's fire, and, thus 
" protected, this non-commissioned officer was enabled to complete a 
" work of great importance. 2nd-Lieutenant Dunville, although 
" severely wounded, continued to direct his men in the wire-cutting 
" and general operations until the raid was successfully completed, 
" thereby setting a magnificent example of courage, determination, and 
" devotion to duty to all ranks under his command. This gallant 
" officer has since succumbed to his wounds." 

The Brigade remained in camp at Buire till 4th July, and then 
began a four days' march to Auchel, Marles-les-Mines and 
Lapugnoy. The Brigade remained in this district till 1 6th July, 
when it marched into the Haverskerque area. Brigade head- 
quarters were at Les Lauriers, occupying the same house as in 
November, 19 14. The Brigade area extended along the road from 
Le Sart to Haverskerque. 

At the end of July the Brigade sent officers and men to Camiers 
for Hotchkiss Rifle Training and also to St. Pol for Physical and 
Bayonet Training. 

On 5th August Captain J. Blakiston-Houston, D.S.O. 
(1 ith Hussars) was appointed D.A.A. and Q.M.G. of the Division, 
and a few days later Captain S. C. Deed, M.C. (General List, 
10th Hussars) was made Staff Captain of the 6th Brigade. 

On 6th August a working party (strength 5 officers and 152 
other ranks) proceeded to a point near Vlamertinghe for work under 
the 5th Army near St. Jean (East of Ypres). 2nd-Lieutenant F. T. 
Turpin (North Somerset Yeomanry) was wounded, and the Royals 
had several casualties. 

On 1 2th August all the surplus men of the regiments and the 
6th Machine Gun Squadron proceeded to the base. 

66 



EPEHY AND THE BIRDCAGE 

" C " Battery left the Brigade on 31st August to be attached 1 9 1 7 
to the 5th Army as instructional battery near St. Omer, not rejoining 
until the beginning of November. 

During the period at Haverskerque regimental and brigade 
training took place. 

Brigade and Divisional horse shows were also held, and on 
1st September there was a Cavalry Corps horse show near St. Pol. 
On 1st October the 3rd Dragoon Guards held sports, the chief event 
of which was a three-and-a-half mile race, won from a field of 150 
by Lieutenant Vincent (3rd Dragoon Guards). 

On 9th October Captain S. C. Deed, M.C. (Staff Captain), 
and Captain U. E. C. Carnegy, M.C, proceeded to Egypt to take 
up staff appointments there. Captain R. M. Wootten (6th Innis- 
killing Dragoons) became Staff Captain of the Brigade. 



67 



CHAPTER IX. 



VADENCOURT AND TERTRY 



'9 1 ? / \Ni 
( land 

I I Vail 



9 th October the Brigade began a trek of several days, 
by 24th October were in billets along the Somme 
Valley from Abbeville to Longpre. 

Three days later a Brigade working party (strength, 
9 officers, 350 other ranks) proceeded by lorry to Doingt 
(East of Peronne) to erect stables and huts, the 3rd Cavalry Pioneer 
Battalion being under Major G. T. Cliff (3rd Dragoon Guards). 
Three weeks later the whole of this party rejoined. 

On 1 2th November "C" Battery with remainder of 4th Brigade, 
R.H.A., marched to Le Mesnil-en-Artois, and on the night of 
20th November were in a position South of Havrincourt Wood. 
They took part in the original barrage for the Cambrai offensive, 
and remained in position till 30th November. 

On 17th November the Brigade marched to the Beaucourt- 
Contay area and remained in billets till 4 p.m. the following after- 
noon, when the march was continued by night to Suzanne — the 
3rd Dragoon Guards being at Cappy. 

General Harman was in command of the Division in the 
absence of General Vaughan, and Colonel Burt was in temporary 
command of the Brigade. 

At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, 20th November, the attack on the Cam- 
brai salient, which had been in preparation for many weeks, began. 
The chief features of the offensive were the use of the infantry 
who were holding the line as the primary attacking force, and the 
employment of Tanks on a large scale. The enemy were not 
expecting the attack, which proved a complete surprise. The 
Hindenburg line was carried, and with the exception of some resist- 
ance at Havrincourt, and later at Flesquieres (which was after- 

68 






; rcnuu in mc unc neccmoer, i o i 7 ana |anuary, 1 9 1 ivaaencourt and l.c Vcrguier). 
Map illustrating \ (2) Area oyer which " C" Battery R.H. A. fought, March 2 1st — 26th, 1918 (Mapi3 illustrates March 26th — April 5th, 191 8). 
(3) Operations <>n 3rd October, 19.18 (Joncourt and Preselles). 




Hindenburg Line. Note. — The Germans retreated to this line in March, 1 (j 1 7. They advanced from it on 
March 21st, [qi8, and were driven back to it in September, 1918. At the end of that 
month the Hindenburg f.ine was definitely broken. 



I 9 I? 



VADENCOURT AND TERTRY 

wards retaken by the enemy), all objectives from Masnieres to 191 7 
Noyelles were taken with few casualties. 

The 1st Cavalry Division, which was at Fins when the attack 
started, moved forward but were held up at first by the recapture 
of Flesquieres. They subsequently did most useful work, both 
mounted and dismounted. The 5th Cavalry Division supported 
the infantry along the L'Escaut canal by Marcoing and Masnieres, 
one squadron of the Fort Garry Horse succeeding in crossing the 
canal. The 2nd Cavalry Division moved up in support of the 
5th Cavalry Division, but returned during the night to Villers 
Plouich. 

The Brigade stood-to at Suzanne from 8.30 a.m. ready to move 
at half-an-hour's notice, but later in the day off-saddled. Heavy 
rain began during the afternoon and continued persistently for two 
days. The following morning the Brigade stood-to at 6.30 a.m., 
but it became evident as the day wore on that a forward movement 
was unlikely. 

On 23rd November the Brigade moved back to the Talmas — 
Contay — Herissart area. The fighting round Cambrai had become 
stationary, the enemy having brought up strong reinforcements. 
The 1st and 2nd Cavalry Divisions were employed dismounted in 
Bourlon Wood. 

On 29th November the Brigade was ordered to send a dis- 
mounted Battalion to the trenches, the whole Division finding a 
Brigade. The advance party with transport left on 30th November 
for Templeux-le-Guerard. That morning, however, the Germans 
attacked from Bantouzelle to Vendhuille. They took Villers 
Gui slain, La Vacquerie and Lateau Wood, and were in Gouzeaucourt 
before anyone suspected the rapidity of the attack. At 12 noon the 
Brigade was ordered to be ready to move mounted at one hour's 
notice; the dismounted Battalion being cancelled and transport 
ordered to rejoin. " C " Battery went into action under the 24th 
Division at Templeux-le-Guerard and remained there till nth 

69 



VADENCOURT AND TERTRY 

1 9 1 7 December. The same evening orders were received to form the 
Battalion as before, and the following morning the 6th Cavalry 
Battalion under Lieut. -Colonel F. W. Wormald, D.S.O., and a 
dismounted party from the 6th Machine Gun Squadron went by 
bus to Bernes, where they remained in reserve under the 7th Corps. 
On the night 7th-8th December, the 3rd Dismounted Division 
(as it was now called : it actually equalled about three battalions) took 
over the line from the 17th Infantry Brigade and came under orders 
of the 24th Division. The sector extended roughly from the 
Omignon River to Le Verguier (see Map 9 facing page 68). 
It was a few miles South of the sector held by the Brigade 
the previous summer. The line consisted of a series of posts 
with continuous wire. The enemy held a well-wired con- 
secutive trench line running along the ridge to the West of 
the St. Quentin Canal. The country was bare undulating grass 
land with a few small woods, and no-man's land varied from 1,000 to 
1,500 yards in width. There were many small valleys, sunk roads 
and much dead ground between our posts and the enemy, and these 
had constantly to be patrolled. Outstanding features such as 
Ascension Wood, Big and Little Bill, Victoria X Roads, Fisher 
Crater, were explored every night. On the night nth- 12th 
December three prisoners and a machine gun were captured by a 
patrol of the 3rd Dragoon Guards. The following is a typical 
example of the work. A patrol of 2 officers and 40 other ranks 
went out from No. 9 Post at 5 p.m. on 24th December, and recon- 
noitred Ascension Wood, which was found all clear. The patrol 
occupied the northern and eastern edges of this wood, scouts being 
sent forward to Big and Little Bill. At 3.20 a.m. a German patrol 
was reported approaching Ascension Wood from the North-east. • 
Our patrol waited until the enemy drew close to the wood, when 
they opened a rapid fire and then charged out on the enemy. Two 
Germans were taken prisoners. 

During most of this period there was snow on the ground, 
which with bright moonlight made patrolling difficult, though white 

70 



VADENCOURT AND TERTRY 

suits were provided for use in No Man's Land. The weather 191 7 
was extremely cold. 

On 10th December 87 horses from the Brigade were despatched 
by rail to Marseilles for transport to Egypt. About this time 
General Harman rejoined the Brigade, General Vaughan having 
returned to the Division from England. 

On 2 1 st December the Brigade, less the trench party, marched 
into much the same area occupied before 17th November. Heavy 
snow followed by a severe frost made this march one of great 
difficulty. 

On 22nd December Major Hon. H. R. Scarlett left the 
Brigade on promotion to Lieut. -Colonel, and Captain E. T. Boylan 
rejoining from Headquarters, R.H.A., took over temporary com- 
mand of " C " Battery. 

On 23rd December Captain R. M. Wootten (6th Inniskilling 
Dragoons) joined the staff of the 3rd Cavalry Division, and Captain 
D. E. Wallace (2nd Life Guards) became staff captain, being officially 
appointed to that post three weeks later. 

On 31st December General Harman took command of the 
3rd Dismounted Division in the trenches, the headquarters of dis- 
mounted Brigades and Squadron leaders having also been changed 
from time to time. 

On 1st January Major F. King (commanding 6th Machine Gun 191 8 
Squadron) left the Brigade to report to Grantham. 

On 1 6th January the 3rd Dismounted Division were relieved 
by the 1st Dismounted Division, and the 6th Dismounted Brigade 
(less 5 officers and 200 other ranks) returned to billets by train and 
lorry. During the relief a train on the Vendelles-Roisel light 
railway containing mostly 3rd Dragoon Guards ran off the line near 
Montigny Farm and four trucks overturned resulting in the death 
of S.S.M. Halliday and L. -Corporal Willis (both 3rd Dragoon 
Guards), and injury to Lieutenant L. Hellyer (3rd Dragoon Guards) 
and 14 other ranks. 

7i 



VADENCOURT AND TERTRY 

jqjg The party who were not relieved formed part of a pioneer 

regiment found by the 3rd Cavalry Division. This regiment was 
billeted at Vendelles and worked in the forward area by night. The 
Brigade sent up a relieving party the following week. 

The battery which on 1 1 th December had moved into an 
unmade position near Jeancourt remained there until 21st March, 
covering a zone in front of Sheppard's Copse with S.O.S. barrage 
at 4,800 yards. Gun positions were concealed and firing was 
restricted to registration. One gun was put in a forward position 
near Sheppard's Copse to deal with enemy Tanks. This gun was 
lost in the first rush on 21st March. Our infantry report that it 
was still seen firing after they had retired behind it. 

On 28 th January the Brigade began a three days' march to 
Tertry. Tertry like all other villages in the devastated area was 
entirely destroyed and officers and men lived in Nissen and Adrien 
huts, the horses being in corrugated iron stables. The Royal 
Dragoons, North Somerset Yeomanry, and 6th Machine Gun 
Squadron were round Couvigny Farm, Brigade headquarters and 
the 3rd Dragoon Guards being in Tertry itself with the 6th C.F.A. 
at Trefcon. 

A beginning was at once made on improving huts and stabling, 
but almost immediately working parties were called for to dig new 
trench lines. One party worked on the so-called Green Line which 
ran through Caulaincourt. Another party lived at Jeancourt and 
worked in the battle zone, a third rode daily to Jeancourt and also 
worked in the forward area, while a fourth party worked at an 
aerodrome at Flez. In addition to all this, horses had to be looked 
after, billets improved, and as much training as possible carried out. 

Under the supervision of Lieut. -Colonel F.H.D.C.Whitmore, 
C.M.G., D.S.O. (Essex Yeomanry), the Cavalry Corps undertook 
an extensive agricultural scheme. Ploughs and agricultural imple- 
ments were collected from all parts and repaired by Cavalry Corps 
Ordnance Work-shops at Estrees. Horses were supplied by the 

72 



VADENCOURT AND TERTRY 

3rd Cavalry Division and work, was begun at once in conjunction 191 
with the French, who had a number of tractors. By the end of 
February many acres of land were ploughed and sown with wheat 
and other cereals, and some 200 acres were manured and ploughed 
ready for potato growing. The Germans, however, took possession 
of these agricultural holdings on Lady Day, 191 8. All the horse 
ploughs (but fortunately few of the tractors) were captured. It 
was not until Michaelmas Day, 191 8, that the Germans were forced 
to relinquish their tenancy. 

Night bombing by hostile aircraft was of frequent occurrence. 
On 1 8 th February the Blues lost 17 horses from a bomb which fell 
on one of their stables, and would have lost many more had it not 
been for their system of traverses in the stable. 

On 4th February Captain C. D. Leyland (1st Life Guards) 
arrived and took over command of the 6th Machine Gun Squadron. 

On 10th February the Brigade suffered a great loss in the death 
of Major G. T. Cliff (second in command, 3rd Dragoon Guards), 
who fractured his skull by a fall from his horse, and died at No. 5 
CCS. at Tincourt. 

It was near the end of the month that the break-up of the 
Indian Cavalry regiments took place and the 7th Dragoon Guards, 
the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons and the 17th Lancers came into the 
3rd Cavalry Division to replace the Household Cavalry, who were 
now under orders to be converted into Machine Gun battalions.* 

On 28 th February the German offensive which had long been 
expected appeared to be imminent. A German prisoner captured 
two days before stated under special examination that there were very 
large bodies of troops in the Laon area and for a great distance back. 
He described the country as swarming with troops, who were being 
slowly moved forward towards the front. In his own words " it 

* The Blues had rejoined the 1st and 2nd Life Guards in the 7th Cavalry Brigade 
in November, 1917, changing places with the Leicestershire Yeomanry who were 
transferred to the 8th Cavalry Brigade. 

73 



VADENCOURT AND TERTRY 

i 91 8 was like another mobilisation." He considered the attack certain 
for the 2nd or 3rd March with Paris and Calais as the chief objec- 
tives, but he did not know exactly on what front the offensive would 
be launched. 

It is obvious that it was impossible for the Allied Higher 
Command to be absolutely certain where the main blow would fall, 
and preparations had therefore to be made to meet the enemy on 
any part of the front. 

On 1st March, according to a pre-arranged plan, part of 
the 8 th Cavalry Brigade moved up into the Brigade area to make 
room for infantry. Reconnaissances were carried out with a view 
to moving up to the line quickly in case of emergency. Working 
parties ceased work, except the party living at Jeancourt, and on 
3rd March the Brigade became duty Brigade of Corps Reserve. 
Major A. S. Barnwell took over command of " C " Battery on 
4th March. 

During the next two weeks Fervaque Farm, Le Verguier, 
Vadencourt, Parkers Post and Maissemy were reconnoitred with a 
view to the organisation of counter attacks. 

On 1 2th March the North Somerset Yeomanry were transferred 
to the 8 th Cavalry Brigade, and the 10th Royal Hussars were 
transferred to the 6th Cavalry Brigade. The 8th Cavalry Brigade, 
now temporarily consisting of the Essex, Leicestershire and 
North Somerset Yeomanry, moved down the following day to the 
area round Long preparatory to being dismounted. Their future 
was uncertain. The first proposal was to make them into Cyclist 
battalions, but it now appeared probable that they would be 
formed into Machine Gun battalions. It was with genuine 
regret that the remainder of the Brigade said good-bye to the North 
Somerset Yeomanry, and the following is the Special Order by 
Brigadier-General A. E. W. Harman, D.S.O., commanding 
6th Cavalry Brigade, dated 12th March, 191 8 : — 

" After bidding farewell to the officers, non-commissioned 

74 







fC 



t/vCa/ta/is 



I 197$ - -^£u^lui£ f()7f. 



VADENCOURT AND TERTRY 

'officers, and men of" the i/ist North Somerset Yeomanry, I wish 1918 
c to put on record the feelings of regret with which all ranks 
' remaining with the 6th Cavalry Brigade part with the North 
' Somerset Yeomanry to-day. 

" Since 13th November, 19 14, when they joined the 6th Cavalry 
' Brigade, the North Somerset Yeomanry by their high sense of 
c duty, keenness, and loyalty, by their efficiency in the fighting round 
' Ypres in November, 1914, February, 19 1 5, April, 1 9 1 5, on 
'13th May, 19 1 5, at Loos in September, 191 5, at the Hohenzollern 
'Redoubt January, 191 6, and at Monchy-le-Preux April, 19 17, 
1 have equally maintained the highest traditions of the Brigade. 

" In saying good-bye and wishing them God-speed to-day, I feel 
s I am voicing the sentiments of all ranks of the Brigade, who, 
' though losing their comrades-in-arms, will ever retain the true 
c spirit of friendship in which they have fought and played together 
' as members of the 6th Cavalry Brigade." 

The 10th Royal Hussars on rejoining the Brigade to which 
they had belonged during the early part of the war, received a very 
warm welcome. 

On 13th March the Brigade moved to the Devise area, where 
officers and men were in huts and the horses in corrugated iron 
stables. 

The following day Brigadier-General A. G. Seymour, D.S.O., 
took over command of the 6th Cavalry Brigade in place of Brigadier- 
General A. E. W. Harman, D.S.O., who shortly afterwards was 
appointed to command the 3rd Cavalry Division, Captain A. G.M.F. 
Howard (Duke of Lancaster's Own) becoming A.D.C. to General 
Seymour instead of Lieutenant H. D. Argles (3rd County of London 
Yeomanry), who became Camp Commandant, 3rd Cavalry Division. 
On 1 6th March Major H. A. Tomkinson, D.S.O. (Royals) was 
appointed acting Lieut. -Colonel of the 10th Royal Hussars, and 
Captain J. C. Humfrey (6th Inniskilling Dragoons) took over 
command of the 6th Machine Gun Squadron from Captain C. D. 

75 



VADENCOURT AND TERTRY 

1918 Leyland (1st Life Guards), who rejoined his regiment on its being 
formed into a Machine Gun battalion. 

About this time Captain D. E. Wallace (Staff Captain) left for 
England to attend the staff course at Cambridge. 

On 1 8th March the Brigade was ordered to find a large digging 
party for work on rear zone defences. This was subsequently can- 
celled owing to the German attack. 

News was received the following day that the offensive would 
almost certainly start on the night 2oth-2ist March and would be 
preceded by a ten-hours' bombardment. 

Throughout the month of March the weather was unusually 
fine. Every night there was a sharp frost and in the early morning 
a heavy mist which cleared off about 9.0 a.m. The day was then 
cloudless and extraordinarily hot for the time of year. In fact the 
weather could not have been more favourable for the preparation 
of a great offensive, nor for the first ten days of the attack when 
it came. 



76 



CHAPTER X. 



THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE 



A 



4.30 a.m. on 21st March the enemy began a heavy 191 8 
bombardment of practically the whole front held by the 
5th and 3rd Armies, and by 10 a.m. a general attack 
had been launched on a 54-mile front, between the 
Sensee river on the extreme North and the Oise 



on the extreme South. An H.V. gun shelled Devise. No. 35 
R.A.F. Squadron on the hill above the Brigade camp was shelled 
out. This shelling must have been at a range of about 18,000 to 
20,000 yards. 

At 8.15 a.m. came orders to be ready to move at short notice, 
and at 3.30 p.m. a telegram was received " Stand-to South." The 
Brigade moved off at 5 p.m., and marching through Croix- 
Molignaux, Esmery Hallon and Villeselve reached Beaumont 
(between Ham and Chauny) at 9 p.m. (see Map 10 facing page 78). 
The -weather was fine and frosty, but there was a thick fog. The 
Brigade bivouacked in the fields. 

It should be clearly understood that in the operations which 
took place during the ensuing five days the 6th Cavalry Brigade was 
not fighting as a complete unit, but was divided up into five com- 
pletely separate formations: — (1) the 6th Dismounted Brigade, 
consisting of about 550 all ranks with 8 machine guns and personnel 
under Lieut. -Colonel A. Burt, D.S.O. (3rd Dragoon Guards); 

(2) Brigade headquarters and 6th Signal Troop with Brigadier- 
General A. G. Seymour, D.S.O., who took command of the 7th and 
Canadian Dismounted Brigades (the staff of the 6th Cavalry Brigade 
thereby temporarily performing the duties of a divisional staff); 

(3) the transport, led horses and horseholders of the Brigade who 
first went to Pontoise and then to Carlepont: (4) a mounted party 
of about 12 officers and 150 other ranks, who having been collected 
from the horse-holders, left Pontoise on 23rd March, and under 

77 



THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE 

191 8 Major E. H. Watkin Williams (10th Hussars), joined General 
Harman's detachment (a further mounted party joining Reynold's 
Force on 26th March); (5) " C " Battery, R.H.A., who, under orders 
of the 66th Division, were in position at Jeancourt when the great 
offensive began and fought almost continuously till 9th April. 

Orders were received about midnight to form the 6th Dis- 
mounted Brigade, and shortly afterwards this party under Colonel 
Burt (3rd Dragoon Guards) with Captain E. W. T. Miles as second- 
in-command rode to Ugny-le-Gay. It was a pitch-black night, 
and the confusion on the roads was considerable. The party went 
by bus from Ugny-le-Gay to Viry Noureuil, arriving there at 4 a.m. 
They came under orders of the 3rd Corps, being attached to the 
58th Division, and took up a partly dug trench line between Viry 
Noureuil and Noureuil. Colonel Burt was under the direct 
command of the G.O.C. 173rd Infantry Brigade. 

At 5.30 a.m. on the 22nd Headquarters (6th Cavalry Brigade) 
marched to Villequier Aumont and General Seymour assumed 
command of the 3rd Dismounted Division (less 6th Dismounted 
Brigade). This consisted of the 7th Dismounted Brigade with 
8 machine guns, and the Canadian Dismounted Brigade with 
12 machine guns. These two Dismounted Brigades moved into 
huts in the Western part of the Bois de Frieres. 

Captain G. Babington (North Somerset Yeomanry) joined the 
6th Cavalry Brigade as acting Staff Captain early that morning. 

Throughout the 22nd the situation remained somewhat obscure. 
By mid-day the Germans were up at the Crozat canal. The 
3rd Corps, which consisted of the 14th, 1 8th and 58th Divisions, was 
reinforced by two dismounted Cavalry Divisions. The 2nd Dis- 
mounted Cavalry Division was sent to help the 14th Division. The 
6th Dismounted Brigade was already with the 58th Division, and 
during the afternoon the 7th Dismounted Brigade was put at the 
disposal of the 1 8th Division, the Canadians being kept in Corps 
reserve. During the day General Seymour got into touch with 

78 



Map showing area of (i) Operation s of 6th Dismounted Brigade, March 2ist— 27th, 1918. (2) Operations of General Harmans Mounted Detachment, March 23rd— 27th, ifji8. i'. 




*9 



THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE 

forward infantry Brigades, and also supervised the siting of machine 191 
guns in Frieres Wood. Reconnaissances were made towards Vouel, 
and close touch was kept with 1 8th Division headquarters at Ugny. 
At 8.15 p.m. the 7th Dismounted Brigade was ordered to 
take up defensive positions along the Eastern edge of Frieres Wood. 

The 6th Dismounted Brigade had been busy all that day 
improving their trenches and putting up wire. The 3rd Dragoon 
Guards were on the right with the 14th Pioneer Battalion on the 
Southern flank, the Royals in the centre, and the 10th Hussars on 
the left with the 3rd London Regiment to the North. 

During the morning of 23rd March the Germans advanced in 
great force, and the whole of the 2nd and 3rd Dismounted Cavalry 
Divisions were heavily engaged. The 7th and Canadian Brigades 
(the latter supporting the 54th Infantry Brigade) were obliged to 
fall back through Frieres Wood fighting stubbornly all the way. 

The 6th Dismounted Brigade had a day of continuous fighting. 
Following on a counter-attack made by the 133rd French Regiment 
on Tergnier and the Butts, the Germans delivered a fresh attack 
which overwhelmed the French counter-attack and enabled them to 
break through in masses near the Butts. Another force broke 
through further North and rapidly arrived at the North-east entrance 
of Noureuil, which was the extreme left flank of the Brigade. Here 
the enemy were stopped by details of headquarters, consisting of 
several officers, orderly-room clerks, signallers, cooks, and the 
mess waiter. The mess itself was captured. The cavalry line, 
which sustained several heavy local attacks at various points, main- 
tained its position, and officers of the 6th Dismounted Brigade and 
of the 3rd and 4th London Regiments rallied the French infantry 
who were falling back. A defensive flank was thrown out and the 
village was held till dark. 

Early in the afternoon of the 23rd, the Headquarters of the 
Dismounted Division (General Seymour) under orders of the t 8th 
Division, moved to Ugny. A detachment of the 6th C.F.A. under 

79 



THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE 

1 91 8 Lieut. -Colonel C. H. Stringer did excellent work in assisting the 
56th Field Ambulance (1 8th Division) to clear all wounded from 
Villequier Aumont before falling back on Ugny. 

The Germans continued to advance in great force throughout 
the afternoon. At 6 p.m. the situation was very serious. It 
seemed likely the enemy had got right round Villequier Aumont 
and were advancing through the woods above Ugny. Major- 
General R. P. Lee, C.B. ( 1 8th Division), ordered General Seymour 
to collect every available man in Ugny and take up a defensive 
position on the high ground to the North-east of the village. No 
one had had any sleep for two nights and the men were exhausted 
after heavy fighting. However, they responded cheerfully to this 
new demand. By 8.30 p.m. about 2,000 men consisting of dis- 
mounted cavalry, elements of various pioneer battalions, infantry 
details, machine gun detachments, servants and orderlies were in 
position outside the village and began to dig in. The 7th Dis- 
mounted Brigade here rejoined the Division. The enemy, however, 
did not advance, though there was a certain amount of sniping. 
Throughout the offensive the Germans seldom attacked after dark. 
At 9.30 p.m. the French arrived and General Seymour's force was 
relieved before midnight. During the evening Lieut. -Colonel 
R. W. Paterson, D.S.O. (Fort Garry Horse) arrived with a mounted 
detachment from Harman's Force, but finding the gap had been filled 
by General Seymour he rejoined General Harman next morning. 

At 5 a.m. on the 24th the 3rd Dismounted Division with 
600 all ranks of the 2nd Dismounted Division marched to Caillouel, 
and three hours later moved into bivouac immediately West of 
Dampcourt. 

It is difficult to convey any idea of the confusion and 
uncertainty which prevailed at this stage of the retreat. The 
Germans were advancing so quickly that at anv time they might have 
appeared on the high ground which hid Chauny from view. They 
were reported to be already in the woods which covered the steep 

80 



THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE 

range of hills to the North and North-west. On all sides villages 191 
were in flames and ammunition dumps were sending up huge 
columns of black smoke. Batteries both French and English 
galloped across the open country into action. Armoured cars and 
heavy guns in a cloud of dust were passing up and down the roads, 
which were already blocked by a ceaseless stream of lorries, tractors, 
motor ambulances, British and French troops and civilian refugees. 
Walking wounded and small groups of stragglers were making their 
way back across the open fields, where, as the German guns moved 
up into action, shells began to fall with greater frequency. 

During the afternoon Brigadier-General J. E. B. Seely, C.B., 
C.M.G., D.S.O., assumed command of both dismounted Divisions 
with headquarters at Appilly, and at the same time the whole force 
came under orders of General Diebold commanding the 1 25th French 
Infantry Division, and also the entire sector. A liaison officer was 
sent to live at his headquarters at Varesnes. Posts were put out 
between the Oise canal and the Noyon-Chauny road. 

Meanwhile the 6th Dismounted Brigade had been continuously 
in action. At 1 a.m. on the morning of the 24th they received 
orders from the 58th Division to withdraw to a line about Chauny. 
This was done without incident, although the Germans were only 
100 yards distant and three-quarters round the village of Noureuil. 
At 3.30 a.m. a line was taken up in the sunk road running North 
from Chauny with details of the 3rd London Regiment and the 
Oxford Hussars on the right and the 133rd French Infantry Division 
on the left. At 8.30 a.m. the Germans attacked, and under cover 
of the mist advanced to within 20 yards, speaking English. They 
were driven back by Hotchkiss and rifle fire. About 9.30 a.m. 
the mist lifted and it was found that the French had moved back. 
The order was then received to move to Abbecourt. This had to be 
done over open country under very heavy machine gun fire, the 
Germans having advanced round Chauny and forced the French 
back on the left. Practically all the men who had been wounded 

81 



THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE 

1 91 8 were carried in blankets across this open plain for about a mile, being 
under heavy machine gun and shell fire the whole time. The night 
was spent lining the canal in the neighbourhood of Manicamp. 

At 9.30 a.m. on 25th March, the 6th Dismounted Brigade was 
ordered by Colonel Pichat to move to the high ground South of 
Quierzy. This position was occupied, but the Brigade came under 
heavy shell fire. The Germans must have got direct observation 
on the column as it left Quierzy, as they followed it up with shelling 
the whole way, causing many casualties. At 12 noon came orders 
from the G.O.C. 173rd Infantry Brigade to re-occupy Quierzy. 
But instructions had been received that orders were to come from 
the French only. This dual control proved unworkable. Quierzy, 
however, was occupied by half the dismounted Brigade, the 
remainder being held in reserve. 

Early the same morning (25th) the 2nd Dismounted Division 
were withdrawn to their horses and the 3rd Dismounted Division 
under orders from General Diebold took up a defensive position 
from Mondescourt to the canal, a detachment, of Canadians being 
sent to help Colonel Pichat at Petit Quierzy. 

At 1 1 a.m., under orders of the 3rd Corps, all the dismounted 
cavalry (except the 6th Brigade) were withdrawn from the line and 
marched back to the horses at Carlepont. The enemy occupied 
Appilly about 1.30 p.m., crossed the canal and took up a position 
North of the Oise. 

The night was spent at Carlepont and the following day the 
^rd Cavalry Division (less the 6th Dismounted Brigade and 
Harman's detachment) marched to Choisy-au-Bac at the junction of 
the Oise and the Aisne about 2 miles from Compiegne. 

It was found impossible to extricate the 6th Dismounted 
Brigade till the morning of the 26th, when they marched to Besme, 
and then to Tracy-le-Mons, being inspected on the way by the 
G.O.C. 58th Division (Major-General A. B. E. Cator, D.S.O.), who 

' 82 



THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE 

expressed his satisfaction at the work carried out by the Brigade 191 8 
during these tour days ot continuous fighting. The following is 
General Cator's Order, which was read to all ranks concerned : — 
" My warmest thanks and congratulations to you and all ranks 
" ot the 3rd Cavalry Division on the splendid work you have done 
" in the XlXth Corps. The fighting spirit and determination dis- 
" played have been beyond all praise, and the results achieved have 
" been of the greatest value." 

On 27th March the 6th Dismounted Brigade rejoined at 
Choisy-au-Bac, having covered a very long distance on foot since 
the battle started — from La Fere almost to Compiegne. On the 
same day General Harman's mounted detachment, of whose doings 
during the opening days of the German offensive it is now necessary 
to give some account, rejoined the Brigade (see Map to facing 
page 78). 

At 9.50 a.m. on 23rd March, General Harman, who commanded 
what was left of the 3rd Cavalry Division (not to be confused with 
the 3rd Dismounted Division) was notified by telephone that the 
Germans had broken through the line at Ham and was ordered to 
turn out as many mounted men as possible. To this force the 
6th Cavalry Brigade contributed 1 2 officers and 1 50 men under 
Major E. H. Watkin Williams (10th Hussars). The men were 
raised from the horseholders, who at the ratio of one man to four 
horses were all that remained of the 3rd Cavalry Division after the 
dismounted party under Colonel Burt had left. On reporting at 3rd 
Corps headquarters at Buchoire, General Harman was ordered to take 
command of the mounted detachments of the 2nd and 3rd Cavalry 
Divisions (about 7 <;o mounted men in all), also of Colonel Theobald's 
infantry (600 strong), a detachment of No. 13 Balloon Company 
(8 Lewis guns and personnel), "O" Battery R.H.A., one lorry and 
one tender. The whole force was to be known as " Harman's 
detachment." By 1 p.m. it was concentrated in readiness at 
Berlancourt, being joined during the afternoon by Colonel 

83 



THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE 

191 8 Theobald's force. Patrols were sent out to Esmery Hallon, Ham, 
Muille Villette, Brouchy and Ollezy to get in touch with the enemy. 

The same evening mounted detachments were sent to fill the 
gap between Villequier Aumont and La Neuville, but finding 
General Seymour's force already there (as recounted above) they 
returned to Berlancourt early on the 24th March, and during the 
morning, in order to protect the left flank of the 14th Division, 
took up a position North-east of Villeselve in touch with Theobald's 
infantry, who were blocking the Western exits of the village. The 
2nd Cavalry Division mounted detachment was sent to clear up the 
position between Esmery Hallon and Golancourt. 

About 2 p.m. on the 24th, the 6th Cavalry Brigade mounted 
detachment, which was then at Berlancourt, was ordered by Lieut. - 
Colonel R. W. Paterson, D.S.O. (Fort Garry Horse), who com- 
manded the 3rd Cavalry Division detachment, to make a mounted 
attack on some hostile infantry and machine guns on the line Hill 8 1 
— Copse A — Copse B (see Map 1 1 facing page 84). The infantry 
were very shaky, and it was hoped that a successful mounted attack 
would regain some of the ground which had been lost, and also 
restore confidence. 

The detachment (roughly equal in numbers to a squadron) 
moved along the main road to Villeselve, taking the sunken track 
running North into Collezy. On approaching Collezy the 
Squadron came under heavy machine gun fire from the direction of 
Golancourt, but got under cover of a large farm at the South-east 
exit of the village. 

The Squadron which was under the command of Major E. H. 
Watkin Williams (10th Hussars) with Captain C. W. Turner 
(Royals) second in command was formed into three troops by 
regiments, the 3rd Dragoon Guards under Lieutenant A. B. P. L. 
Vincent, M.C., the 10th Royal Hussars under Lieutenant Viscount 
Ednam, and The Royal Dragoons under Lieutenant the Hon. 
W. H. Cubitt. 

84 



Map illustrating the Charge of the Composite Squadron of the 6th Cavalry Brigade near Villeselve. 



Brouchy 



IGolancourt 



Solitary poft-'ar 




Cerman M.C. 
which got away 



Collezy 



German )„<■ (^~\C 0/ Dse> 3 

3 German MCs" * [ 
captured in charge 

Elements of 
our Infantry 




-<y 






6<k CAVALRY BRIGADE TROOPS BEHIND THE FARM. 
<ck CAVALRY BRIGADE TROOPS ATTACHING 



THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE 

The plan of attack had been explained to troop leaders on the 1 9 
way. Lieutenant Vincent was ordered to move towards Copse " B." 
He was to charge any Germans he encountered and secure the right 
flank. The 10th Hussars and Royals were to make the main 
attack towards Copse " A." 

The 3rd Dragoon Guards moved off immediately, and almost 
at once came under machine gun tire. They advanced at a steady 
pace and soon encountered parties of German infantry, some of 
whom ran into the Copse where they were followed on foot. Many 
were shot at point blank range as they ran away. Twelve prisoners 
were handed over to the infantry and the right flank was secured. 

As soon as the 3rd Dragoon Guards were on their way the 
roth Hussars and Royals started. The formation was troops in 
line, first the 10th Hussars, then the Royals about 150 yards behind. 
When the charge started the men were knee to knee, but owing to 
machine gun fire and the fast pace they tended to open out and by 
the time the enemy was reached were more or less extended. 

On clearing the farm the head of the column wheeled slightly 
to the left and passed through a few scattered parties of our infantry. 
The Germans were then clearly seen in front of Copse "A." The 
distance to be covered was about 600 yards, the last 200 yards being 
over plough. There was considerable machine gun fire from the 
left flank. 

The 10th Hussars advanced steadily and when the enemy 
saw mounted troops making straight for them and heard the men 
cheering, they began to surrender freely. The 10th Hussars rode 
straight through the enemy, the Royals following and mopping up 
small parties who had run together. After the melee, " Rally " 
was sounded, prisoners were collected, and the Squadron returned 
to the main Berlancourt — Villeselve road, wounded being picked up. 
Ninety-five prisoners were brought in by the 10th Hussars and 
the Royals, making a total of 107 in all. The number, however, 
was really greater, as small bodies of the enemy kept giving them- 

85 



THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE 

1 9 1 8 selves up to the infantry who followed up the charge. One machine 
gun was brought back intact, one was presented to the Commander 
of the French infantry, and one was put out of action. The machine 
gun on the left flank was not captured as owing to the heavy plough 
it was able to get away just in time. Besides the prisoners, between 
70 and 100 Germans were sabred. The casualties of the Squadron 
were about 73 out of 1 50, but comparatively few were killed. 
Lieutenant Hon. W. H. Cubitt (Royals) was mortally wounded 
during the attack, whereby one of the most promising young officers 
in the Brigade was lost. 

The whole operation though small in itself is a brilliant proof 
of what cavalry can do when they have the chance of being used 
in their proper capacity. Probably no better example of the value 
of shock action could be found in the history of the whole war. 
The manoeuvre gave the infantry renewed confidence, and they were 
able to push forward their line well beyond the limits of the charge, 
thus enabling the remnants of two battalions who had been fighting 
near Cugny to retire on Villeselve and re-form. Demoralisation of 
the enemy, encouragement of our own tired troops, the immediate 
capture of important ground — these are solid advantages which the 
expert soldier has always realised cavalry could give. But the 
opportunities have been few. All the more pity that on 21st March 
two-thirds of the three cavalry divisions available had to be thrown 
into the battle on foot. 

At 4.55 p.m. on the 24th, Harman's detachment was ordered 
to withdraw to Guiscard, mounted troops covering the retirement 
of all infantry in the district. 

The enemy were now developing a determined attack in a 
Southerly direction on a rough line — Montdidier — Lassigny — 
Noyon — Appilly. It was of the utmost importance to prevent him 
breaking through between Lassigny and Noyon, so that the salient 
formed by the Oise immediately South of Noyon might hold out 
(see Map to facing page 78). In this work the cavalry played a 
most effective part. g/r 



THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE 

Throughout the night of 24th - 25th March Harman's 1918 
detachment was active, and at 1.30 p.m. on the 25th it came under 
orders of the 10th French Division. During the afternoon the 
2nd and 3rd Cavalry Division detachments went up to Munrancourt 
to support the French. About 6 p.m. the French began to fall 
back, and the cavalry were ordered to cover their retirement. 

Early on 26th March a further force was collected from all 
available mounted men at Carlepont, the 6th Cavalry Brigade finding 
5 officers and 89 other ranks. They joined what was called Reynolds' 
Force,* coming under the orders of Lieut. -Colonel A. B. Reynolds 
(12th Lancers, commanding the Northumberland Hussars). From 
the 27th to the 29th this force was employed patrolling the line 
Chiry — Thiescourt — Lassigny — Canny — Biermont. This front 
was now held entirely by French troops, supported by British 
artillery. The information obtained by the cavalry patrols as to 
the position of the French and enemy forces was of great value 
to the artillery (see Map 10 facing page 78). 

-Meanwhile, at 3.30 a.m. on 26th March Harman's detachment 
withdrew through the French infantry to reserve at Dives. But at 
9.50 a.m. the enemy being reported in the Bois des Essarts, the 
2nd Cavalry Division detachment were ordered to take up a position 
at Charbonneaux Farm and at 10.35 a - m - ot "ders were given to the 
3rd Cavalry Division detachment to push the enemy out of the 
Bois des Essarts and Mont de Porquericourt. This was done suc- 
cessfully, the attack being made by the Canadian and part of the 
7th Cavalry Brigade detachments. The remainder of the 7th Cavalry 
Brigade and the 6th Cavalry Brigade detachment protected the right 
flank by holding the Bois de la Reserve. Touch was obtained with 
the 2nd Cavalry Division and a continuous line to Lagny established. 
The Germans, however, crossed the river at Catigny and broke 

- During the night 24th-25th March, Colonel Reynolds drew 120 horses from the 
led horses of the 3rd Cavalry Division, and with the 120 men of his regiment thus 
mounted joined Harman's detachment at 8 a.m. on the 25th. 

87 



THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE 

191 8 through the French line near Candor, thus turning the left flank of 
the 2nd Cavalry Division, who were compelled to withdraw to 
Dives. This in turn exposed the left flank of the 3rd Cavalry 
Division detachment. The 6th Cavalry Brigade detachment was 
therefore ordered to push forward mounted to support the 
2nd Cavalry Division (1 6th Lancers) and were the last troops to with- 
draw. Led horses were sent back and the 2nd Cavalry Division 
informed that the 3rd Cavalry Division would protect their left 
flank. A rearguard action was then fought on foot, a determined 
stand being made at Cuy, which enabled the 6th Cavalry Brigade to 
get clear. The action was continued over the Bois de la Reserve, 
the 3rd Cavalry Division detachment finally crossing the river at 
Evricourt, where the French had dug themselves in. 

Harman's detachment then received orders to withdraw to 
Thiescourt and from there went into reserve at Elincourt late on 
the evening of the 26th. 

On 27th March the whole force broke up and the 3rd Cavalry 
Division detachment (less those who formed part of Reynolds' 
Force) joined the dismounted parties at Choisy-au-Bac. 

Throughout this period, whether working with mounted or 
dismounted detachments, the 6th C.F.A. never failed to evacuate 
all wounded. In spite of the fact that casualty clearing stations 
were constantly moving back, and it became almost impossible to 
obtain accurate information with regard to the location of medical 
units, the 6th C.F.A. passed back large numbers of wounded first 
to Noyon and later to a French Hospital at Compiegne. 

The Brigade, either mounted or dismounted, had been 
marching and fighting continuously since 21st March. It now 
remained at Choisy-au-Bac for three days. The horses were on 
the edge of the forest of Compiegne, about a mile South of Choisy- 
au-Bac, and the men in bivouac alongside. On the night 27th-28th 
there was a severe bombing attack by hostile aircraft, one man being 
killed and a number of men and horses wounded. 

88 



THE GERMAN OFFENSIVE 

On 29th March the detachment from Reynolds' Force rejoined 191 8 
and, except for the absence of " C " Battery, the 6th Cavalry Brigade 
was once more a complete mounted lighting force. The following 
statement appeared in the Commander-in-Chief's despatch of 
30th March : — 

" During the past week our cavalry have fought with great 

" gallantry, both mounted and dismounted, and have repulsed the 

" enemy, inflicting heavy losses on him in numerous engagements." 

The whole line from Montdidier to the Oise canal at Sempigny 

now seemed more secure and the danger point shifted to Amiens. 



89 



o 



CHAPTER XI. 



VILLERS BRETONNEUX 

191 8 ^^ .». n 29th March the Brigade marched through Compiegne 
and Arsy to Clermont, and then to Airion for the night. 
The area was crowded. In the small farm allotted to 
Brigade headquarters there were also a squadron of 
French Dragoons and a working party of 300 Italians. 

Late that night General Seymour attended a conference at Divisional 

headquarters near St. Just-en-Chaussee. 

On 30th March the Brigade made a long trek of 35 miles 
through St. Just-en-Chaussee and Berny to Sains-les-Amiennois. 
All three regiments the Machine Gun Squadron and 6th C.F.A., in 
addition to the 7th Cavalry Brigade, were in bivouac in and around 
a gigantic farm on the outskirts of the woods one-and-a-half miles 
South-east of Sains. It poured with rain throughout the march and 
during the night. 

That evening Lieutenant R. Heyworth Savage (Royals) joined 
Brigade headquarters as Brigade Signalling Officer, in place of 
Captain R. S. Stancliffe (2nd Life Guards), who had been promoted 
to command the 3rd Signal Squadron. 

The Brigade remained at Sains over Easter Sunday, and on 
Monday, 1st April, moved at 6 a.m. through Boves to the Bois de 
Gentelles in support of the 2nd Cavalry Division who (with the 
Canadian Cavalry Brigade attached and later with the 7th Cavalry 
Brigade) were engaged in Rifle Wood, South-east of Hourges. 
Patrols were sent out to Morgemont Wood and also towards 
Marcelcave and a liaison officer was sent to the 2nd Cavalry Division. 
The Brigade remained in readiness all day and passed the night in 
Tronville Wood (1,000 yards West of the Bois de Blangy). The 
2nd April was spent in bivouac, further patrols being sent out to 
get in touch with the infantry. At 8 p.m. that night the Royals 

90 



VILLERS BRETONNEUX 

marched to a concealed position about 1,500 yards North-west of 191 8 
Villers Bretonneux, and then went forward to dig a series of strong 
points in the neighbourhood of the Bois de Vaire. 

Early on 3rd April the 3rd Dragoon Guards and Machine 
Gun Squadron marched to the Bois l'Abbe, the Royals also 
returning there after digging. Brigade headquarters and the 
10th Hussars marched to Fouilloy, the whole Brigade coming under 
orders of the 1st Cavalry Division, The 6th C.F.A. was at Blangy- 
Tronville. On 3rd April the 14th Infantry Division relieved the 
1st Cavalry Division, and the Brigade was ordered to remain in 
reserve to the 14th Division. The Royals worked again at the 
same line of strong points during the night. 

At 5.30 a.m. on 4th April, the enemy opened a heavy bombard- 
ment on the whole front of the 14th Division, who had only taken 
over the line a few hours before after heavy fighting further South. 
Fouilloy was shelled, and at 6.30 a.m. the G.O.C. 14th Division 
moved his headquarters to the Orphanage on the Fouilloy — Blangy- 
Tronville road, General Seymour and his staff moving there simul- 
taneously. The enemy attacked about 6.15 a.m. and our infantry 
were forced back from the front line posts. It was essential for the 
defence of Villers Bretonneux (and of Amiens) that the high ground 
on both sides of the Fouilloy — Warfusee road should be held. The 
43rd Infantry Brigade was ordered to move up into position on this 
high ground, and shortly afterwards (about 7.15 a.m.) the 
10th Hussars with 4 machine guns were ordered to operate on their 
left flank (North of the Fouilloy — Warfusee road) and the 
3rd Dragoon Guards and the Royals with 8 machine guns on their 
right flank (North-east of Villers Bretonneux). In the event of 
the infantry not having arrived on this high ground, it was to be 
held by the cavalry at all costs. Meanwhile the bivouac of the 
Royals and Machine Gun Squadron in the Bois l'Abbe had 
been heavily shelled, and they had been forced to move out into 
the valley between the wood and Fouilloy. 

9 1 



VILLERS BRETONNEUX 

191 8 The 10th Hussars moved up without delay on the left 

flank, and shortly afterwards the 3rd Dragoon Guards followed 
by the Royals came up on the right. All three regiments 
advanced mounted at a fast pace, and the Royals and 10th 
Hussars came into action immediately, one squadron of the 
3rd Dragoon Guards forming a defensive flank. All horses were 
sent back, and the men fought dismounted. The Germans were 
attempting to advance all along the line, and there was a gap, both 
on the left flank between what remained of the 41st and 42nd 
Infantry Brigades and on the right flank between the 41st Infantry 
Brigade and the Australians. Both these gaps were filled, that on 
the left by the 10th Hussars and that on the right by the Royals. 
The situation on the right was only just saved in time. The 
Germans were attempting to push forward in large numbers 
and U B" Squadron (Royals) (Captain C. W. Turner, M.C.) 
at once took up a position just North of the main Amiens — 
St. Quentin road, being shortly afterwards reinforced by 
"A" Squadron (Captain E. W. T. Miles, M.C). There was still 
a considerable gap which was temporarily held by the R.S.M. and 
headquarter orderlies of the regiment until " C " Squadron (Captain 
W. P. Browne, M.C.) came up to relieve them. At 1 1.45 Brigade 
headquarters moved to a point about 500 yards North of Villers 
Bretonneux, and divisional headquarters moved up to the Orphanage 
at Fouilloy. By mid-day the situation was in hand and the cavalry 
with elements of the 14th Division held a more or less definite line 
from Vaire-sous-Corbie, West of the Bois de Vaire to a point about 
1,000 yards East of Villers Bretonneux on the main Amiens — St. 
Quentin road. 

The work done by the 6th Cavalry Brigade on the morning of 
4th April is undoubtedly one of the finest examples of the value 
of a mounted mobile reserve which the whole war has to offer. 
Villers Bretonneux was the key to Amiens and the Germans fully 
realised that fact, as was proved by the several attempts which they 

92 



Map illustrating operations of 6th Cavalry Bri gade on April 4th and 5th, 1918 

ft «Vatre -»ous-Corbi« 







VILLERS BRETONNEUX 

made on later occasions to take and hold the place. When the 191 8 
6th Cavalry Brigade came into action about 8.0 a.m. that morning 
the way to Villers Bretonneux lay open, and the Germans were 
advancing quickly. It was not a question even of an hour or two. 
It was a question of minutes. The only roads by which infantry in 
lorries could have been rushed up were under concentrated shell 
tire. None but mounted troops moving quickly over open country 
could have saved the situation. 

During the morning the 7th Cavalry Brigade had moved up 
into a position of readiness and a squadron of the 1 7th Lancers was 
sent to reinforce " B " Squadron of the Royals, who were in 
touch with the Australians on their right. The enemy were 
several times reported to be massing for attack, and the 14th 
Divisional artillery dealt with these targets. At 1.45 p.m. the 
10th Hussars reported that a heavy attack was developing between 
the Bois de Vaire and Hamel. Machine gun and rifle fire largely 
stopped this attack which broke down completely. 

•The 6th C.F.A. were in the Chateau just West of the Bois 
l'Abbe. A medical officer and bearers were in direct touch with 
headquarters of regiments, and both cavalry and Australian wounded 
were evacuated down the main road in motor ambulances which were 
able to pass right up through Villers Bretonneux. 

At 2.15 p.m. the 7th Dragoon Guards with 4 machine 
guns were sent to reinforce the 10th Hussars. At 5.^0 p.m. 
the Australians began to move back on the right flank. This 
was reported by Colonel Wormald, who attempted to ascertain 
the reason for their withdrawal. The squadron of the 1 7th Lancers, 
which was already in support to the Royals, moved forward at the 
gallop and formed a defensive flank and as soon as the two remaining 
squadrons of the 17th Lancers came up they occupied the posts 
immediately North of the Villers Bretonneux — Warfusee road. 
Meanwhile Captain S. G. Howes, M.C. (Brigade Major) was sent to 
gain touch with the Australian headquarters, and the Australians, 

93 



VILLERS BRETONNEUX 

1 91 8 who had withdrawn entirely through a misunderstanding, at 
once resumed their former positions. By 7 p.m. the situation 
was quiet. Heavy rain fell throughout the day and continued 
during the night. There was no cover of any kind. Conditions 
could hardly have been worse. 

During the night the 3rd Cavalry Division with the 
15th Australian Brigade relieved the 14th Division, of which two 
Brigades had suffered very heavy casualties. The 6th Cavalry 
Brigade with the Inniskilling Dragoons and the 17th Lancers, held the 
right sector from the Fouilloy — Warfusee road to the Villers Bre- 
tonneux — Warfusee road, the 7th Dragoon Guards being in reserve. 
All horses were sent back to Tronville Wood. At 8 a.m. on 5th April, 
the valley where Brigade headquarters was situated was shelled, and 
headquarters moved to a quarry about 1,000 yards South of 
Fouilloy. At 10.45 a - m - tne enemy opened a heavy bombardment 
on the whole sector which continued for three-quarters of an hour, 
and was accompanied by an accurate indirect machine gun barrage. 
The enemy, who attempted to attack under cover of this bombard- 
ment, were held up by our artillery and machine gun fire, but 
appeared in considerable force on the sky line about 900 yards from 
our posts and began to dig in. This excellent target was satis- 
factorily dealt with by our artillery. 

At 2 p.m. a message was received from the 3rd Cavalry 
Division, saying that the Australian battalion on the left reported the 
enemy appeared to be massing along the whole front. This attack 
however, never developed. The rest of the day passed quietly, and 
at 10.30 p.m. the relief of the 6th and 7th Cavalry Brigades by 
the Australians began, being completed by 3.30 a.m. 

All regiments were back in Tronville Wood by 5 a.m. on 
6th April, and at 9.30 a.m. the Brigade (less the Machine Gun 
Squadron, who remained another 24 hours in the line) marched into 
billets at Camon. 

94 



VILLERS BRETONNEUX 

The casualties during the last two weeks were : — 1 9 1 8 

Brigade Headquarters (including 6th Signal Troop and 13th 
M.V.S.): Other ranks, 2 killed, 6 wounded. 3rd Dragoon 
Guards : Officers, Lieutenant N. T. King (killed), Lieutenant F. B. 
Katinakis (died of wounds), Lieutenant T. Kohler, Captain R. B. 
Allen, Lieutenant R. D. Younger, Lieutenant M. J. Clery 
(wounded); other ranks, 25 killed, 51 wounded, 13 missing. The 
Royal Dragoons : Officers, Lieutenant Hon. W. H. Cubitt (died of 
wounds), Captain H. McCall Johnson (A.V.C.) (died of wounds), 
Lieutenant A. R. Cooper, Lieutenant D'A. F. Harris, Lieutenant 
E. St. G. Stedall (wounded); other ranks, 17 killed, 59 wounded, 
8 missing. 10th Hussars: Officers, 2nd-Lieutenant R. G. Field 
(killed), Lieut.-Colonel H. A. Tomkinson, D.S.O., Major 

E. H. Watkin Williams, Captain E. W. E. Palmes, M.C., 
Lieutenant Viscount Ednam, M.C., Lieutenant W. J. Brisley, 
Lieutenant F. R. Gaskell, 2nd-Lieutenant H. D. Kelleway 
(wounded); other ranks, 9 killed, 61 wounded, 15 missing. 6th 
Machine Gun Squadron : Officers, Captain F. B. Ratcliffe (died of 
wounds), Lieutenant G. H. Eaton (killed), Lieutenant J. A. Wilkes 
(missing, believed killed), Lieutenant A. Cole, Lieutenant A. W. G. 
Windham, 2nd-Lieutenant R. C. Hollis (wounded); other ranks, 
2 killed, 29 wounded, 4 missing. 6th C.F.A. : Officers, Captain 
A. W. Forrest (wounded); other ranks, 1 killed, 12 wounded. 

On 6th April reinforcements from the North Somerset 
Yeomanry, whose conversion into a dismounted force had not been 
proceeded with owing to the offensive, arrived, and officers and 
men were allotted to the three regiments. The Brigade was 
extremely fortunate in receiving this excellent personnel at a time 
when it was so much needed. Of the officers who returned, Captain 
A. B . Mitchell and Captain A. W. Phipps had been with the 
North Somerset Yeomanry throughout the war. Lieut.-Colonel 

F. H. D. C. Whitmore, C.M.G., D.S.O., took over command of 
the 10th Royal Hussars, 

95 



VILLERS BRETONNEUX 

191 8 The Brigade remained at Camon from 6th April to nth April, 

and was fully occupied in reorganising and refitting. 

It is perhaps worth recording that on the first day of the battle 
(March 2 1st) at least 64 German divisions took part in the operations. 
This number considerably exceeded the total forces composing the 
entire British Army in France. The British forces on the original 
battle front on the morning of 21st March consisted of 25 infantry 
divisions and three cavalry divisions. 

Some short account must now be given of the doings of 
"C" Battery from 21st March to this date (see Map 9 facing 
page 68). 

When the barrage started on 21st March, " C " Battery, who 
were in position near Jeancourt, immediately opened fire on S.O.S. 
lines. Owing to the fog, together with the smoke and gas, great 
difficulty was experienced in laying. Within half-an-hour the only 
communication with the rear was by runners. The group telephone 
exchange was destroyed by a direct hit. Visual signalling was 
impossible owing to the fog. About 1.30 p.m. the fog lifted and 
Germans crossing the ridge by Grand Priel Wood were engaged over 
open sights. Several of the gun pits were blown in, but the guns 
moved into the open and remained in action, until about 5.45 p.m., 
when the battery was ordered to withdraw a section at a time. An 
anti-tank gun with all available shrapnel was left behind until dusk. 
The battery withdrew to a position on the Vendelles — Bernes 
road, and on 22nd March marched to St. Christ, then back 
to Bouvincourt (occupying various positions on the way) where 
it came into action. During the night the Battery was withdrawn 
again and during the morning of the 23rd it fought several rear- 
guard actions notably on the slope West of Brie, where with the 
1 6th Brigade it had excellent shooting over open sights. As it 
retired from this open position and crossed the Somme near Brie, 
the battery came under heavy fire from three or four enemy batteries 
and a large flight of aeroplanes. A covered position was finally 

96 



VILLERS BRETONNEUX 

taken up West of Briost to cover the crossing at St. Christ. The 191 
battery was in action throughout the night and on 24th March 
moved to a position West of Barleux. Here Captain E. T. Boylan, 
M.C., took over temporary command, Major Barnwell going to 
command the 4th Brigade R.H.A. in the absence of Colonel A. R. 
Wainewright. At 1 p.m. the enemy were advancing in force on 
Barleux, and the battery received orders to withdraw to Assevillers, 
from where it had excellent targets, moving at dusk to Dompierre. 

On 25th March the battery, which was in support of a Brigade 
of the 66th Division acting as rearguard to the main body, did con- 
siderable execution on the enemy advancing between Assevillers 
and Dompierre, and about 10 a.m. retired to a second position South 
of Chuignes to prevent the enemy molesting the rearguard marching 
down the main road from Villers Carbonnel to Villers Bretonneux. 
As soon as the rearguard had passed Foucaucourt the battery was 
ordered to go into action just North of Harbonnieres (see Map 13 
facing page 104). 

On the morning of the 26th the enemy continued his attack 
and the battery fired continuously at hostile waves of infantry 
crossing the high ground East of Vauvillers, occupying a new 
position West of Harbonnieres about mid-day and remaining in 
action till dusk. Major Barnwell again took command of the 
battery. 

Before dawn on the 27th the battery was ordered to rendezvous 
South of Guillaucourt, showing no lights and making as little noise 
as possible, as the enemy were reported in Bayonvillers on the right 
rear. The Luce was then crossed at Ignaucourt and a position 
taken up with " G " and " K " Batteries South of Cayeux, covering 
the high ground on the North of the river. Here the enemy were 
engaged and driven back. That evening a further withdrawal 
was ordered, first to Ignaucourt then to Hangard. 

On 28th March the battery fired from this position, and about 
mid-day received orders to retire to Villers Bretonneux, where it 

97 



VILLERS BRETONNEUX 

1 91 8 came into action in the station yard. "G" and "K" Batteries 
being withdrawn, " C " Battery was now the foremost battery of 
artillery on this sector. On 2nd April Captain Boylan again took 
over command. 

On the morning of 4th April the enemy attacked, the 
preliminary bombardment being very heavy on the station. Obser- 
vation was impossible owing to the thick mist, and all firing had to 
be done from the map until the afternoon, when the visibility 
improved. The guns and wagon lines suffered severely, one com- 
plete detachment being killed by a 5.9. About 4 p.m. our infantry 
began to come over the ridge 400 yards in front of the battery, 
which was ordered to retire. There were then only one officer 
and 1 5 men to man 5 guns. Many of the horses had been hit, and 
it was with difficulty that teams could be put together to pull the 
guns out through the mud, before the enemy appeared on the ridge 
in front. An open position was then taken up South of Cachy 
covering Hangard Wood. 

On 5th April the battery moved to the p.o.w. cage just East 
of the Bois l'Abbe, and during the night a sudden burst of fire 
killed three men, wounded eighteen, and hit a large number of 
horses, throwing the teams into confusion. A stampede from a 
Field Battery's wagon lines almost started " C " Battery's horses, but 
owing to the excellent work of the drivers the stampede was 
prevented. 

On 9th April the battery marched to the rear wagon lines at 
Cagny, having lost since 21st March almost 50 per cent, of its 
strength in men and horses. No guns were lost except the one in 
the forward position on the first day of the offensive. 

During these operations the following officers of the Battery 
were wounded : Lieutenant R. Patrick, Lieutenant R. L. Hutchins, 
Lieutenant T. Stevens, 2nd-Lieutenant O. L. Boord, 2nd-Lieutenant 
M. H. Cooper. 

98 



VILLERS BRETONNEUX 

On the morning of 9th April began the German offensive from 1 9 1 8 
the La Bassee canal to Bois Grenier developing further North 
against Messines the following morning. Throughout 10th April 
the 6th Cavalry Brigade stood-to at short notice, and early on 
irth April marched through Amiens and Auxi-le-Chateau to the 
Buire-au-Bois area, continuing the march the following day and 
arriving late at night in billets at Conteville — Hestrus — Eps. While 
the Brigade was watering at Wavrans in the dark, hostile aircraft 
appeared overhead and tried to hit the St. Pol-Hesdin railway. 
Several bombs fell about 50 yards from the horses without doing 
any damage. 

At 6 a.m. on 13th April, the Brigade concentrated at Bailleul- 
les-Pernes, and later in the day billeted there and at Ferfay and 
Aumerval. Merville had been taken on nth April, and the line 
now ran immediately East of the Forest of Nieppe and then South- 
wards about 2 miles East of St. Venant. 

The Brigade remained in this area during the next ten days, 
standing-to every morning at 6 a.m. ready to move up in support 
of the Xlth Corps. The reserve and support lines from Havers- 
kerque to Les Amusoires with roads and lines of approach were 
thoroughly reconnoitred by General Seymour and all senior officers. 

" C " Battery rejoined from Cagny. 

On 1 6th April Lieut.-Colonel A. Burt, D.S.O., left the Brigade 
to become G.O.C. 7th Cavalry Brigade, and Lieut.-Colonel C. L. 
Rome, D.S.O. (nth Hussars), assumed command of the 3rd 
Dragoon Guards. About this time Major A. S. Barnwell, D.S.O. 
(" C " Battery), was seriously injured by a fall from his horse and 
was evacuated. On 24th April Brigade headquarters with the 
6th C.F.A. and the 13th M.V.S. moved to Fontaine-les-Hermans, 
and the Royals to Nedonchelle. 

On 4th May the Brigade began a three days' trek Southwards, 
and marching through St. Pol and Doullens arrived on the afternoon 
of 6th May at Contay. Here all units were in bivouac, and came 

99 



VILLERS BRETONNEUX 

191 8 into 4th Army Reserve in 3rd Corps area. The enemy were 
expected to attack very shortly on this sector. The Brigade 
stood-to every morning at 5 a.m. Conferences were held with 
infantry commanders, plans worked out for holding important 
tactical features (such as Henencourt and Lavieville) and the whole 
sector was frequently reconnoitred by General Seymour, and all unit 
commanders. Every other night the Brigade found strong digging 
parties for work on the line East of Henencourt. 

On 1 2th May Captain S. G. Howes, M.C., after having been 
on the Brigade Staff for over three years, first as Staff Captain, then 
as Brigade Major, was appointed G.S.O.2 of the 3rd Cavalry 
Division, and Captain E. A. Fielden, M.C. (10th Hussars), became 
Brigade Major in his place. 

On 1 7th May the Brigade marched to Belloy-sur-Somme. The 
three regiments and machine gun squadron were in bivouac in 
the Bois de Belloy, the ambulance and battery being in the village. 

On Sunday, 19 th May, after a short Church parade, the Corps 
Commander (Lieut. -General Sir C. T. McM. Kavanagh, K.C.B., 
C.V.O., D.S.O.) presented medals awarded to officers and men since 
2 1 st March. An Australian band played during the ceremony. 

On 20th May Major D. Scott, M.C, took over command of 
" C " Battery. 

During the next ten days the Brigade carried out mounted and 
dismounted training. The weather which had been unusually fine 
for several weeks remained extremely hot. 

On 27th May the Germans attacked between Chavignon and 
Berry-au-Bac and within 4 days reached the Marne. 

On 3 1 st May the Brigade marched to Behencourt and went into 
bivouac in the wood West of the village and along the banks cf 
the River Hallue. Throughout this period the Germans were 
expected to attack. At 4 p.m. on 6th June a G.H.Q. telegram was 
received saying a German offensive between Montdidier and the 

100 



VILLERS BRETONNEUX 

Oise was probable within the next two days and a simultaneous 1( ) 1 
attack on this front possible. 

Orders having been received that the Brigade might be called 
upon to support the 3 ist French Corps in the Moreuil sector, bridges 
and roads in this direction were carefully reconnoitred. The attack 
between Montdidier and the Oise took place on the 9th, but the 
4th Army front remained quiet. 

On 14th June the Brigade moved back to Belloy, and the 
following day General Seymour with other officers reconnoitred the 
ground round the Bois de Gentelles in the event of the French 
needing support. 

The Brigade remained at Belloy, but little work could be done 
owing to an epidemic of so-called P.U.O. This disease appeared 
to be a virulent type of influenza, and was accompanied by high 
temperature and often by serious after-effects. Lieut. -Colonel 

C. H. Stringer, D.S.O. (O.C. 6th C.F.A.), formed a special hospital 
under canvas at Belloy, where by the end of the month there were 
close upon 500 cases undergoing treatment. 

On 25th June the Brigade moved to the Le Mesge — Soues — 
Riencourt area. On 29th June Captain E. A. Fielden, M.C., left 
tor England to attend the staff course at Cambridge, and Captain 

D. E. Wallace, M.C., on his return from this course a few days 
later, became Brigade Major during his absence. 

On 4th July " C " Battery (under Lieutenant A. A. Bontor, 
M.C.) supported the attack of the Australians on Hamel, and came 
into action near Heilly. The Battery fired a barrage at zero for four 
hours. It remained in this area until July 11th and fired almost 
every night. 

The Brigade remained in the same area throughout July and 
carried out training. The P.U.O. epidemic had almost subsided 
by the middle of the month. On 75th July the Reverend A. 
Rowland Grant, M.Y.O., joined the Brigade as Chaplain. 

101 



G 



CHAPTER XII. 



THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE 

1 9 1 8 /» — ^ ENERAL SEYMOUR attended a conference at Cavalry 
Corps headquarters on Sunday 4th August, and the plans 
for the offensive of 8th August, which had been kept 
absolutely secret, were explained. 

On 6th August at 10.30 p.m. the Brigade marched 
to Renancourt, and remained there during the following day. At 
9.30 p.m. on 7th August, the Brigade marched to the assembly area 
(1,000 yards West of Tronville Wood). Considerable delay was 
experienced in Amiens shortly before midnight owing to Tanks on 
the road. 

The battle which began on 8th August not only freed Amiens 
and the Paris-Amiens railway, but proved to be the first of a series 
of tremendous battles which only ended three months later (on 
nth November), when the enemy, completely broken and in rout, 
was forced to sign an unconditional armistice. 

The operations of 8th August may be summarised thus: — 
The 4th Army was attacking the German positions between 
Morlancourt and the Amiens — Roye road, the 1st French Army 
operating to the South. There were two objectives which affected 
the Cavalry : 

(1) The Red Line: Mezieres — Cayeux — West of Harbon- 
nieres; (2) The Blue Line : East of Le Quesnel — East of Caix — 
East of Harbonnieres (see Map 13 facing page 104). 

The 3rd Cavalry Division was to work with the 1st and 3rd 
Canadian Infantry Divisions till the Red Line was reached (the 
1 st Cavalry Division working with the 2nd Canadian and 
5th Australian Divisions to the North of the railway) and was then 
to pass through the infantry and seize and hold the Blue Line, 
exploiting any success to the East of it, if possible. 

102 



THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE 

The morning was dry and foggy. The attack of the infantry i 9 1 
in conjunction with numerous Tanks proved a complete surprise, 
and went well from the start. 

At 5.40 a.m. the Brigade followed the 7th Cavalry Brigade 
up the cavalry track which led almost due East, skirting Cachy on 
the North and crossing the front line about 1,000 yards East of that 
village. The Brigade halted just outside Cachy until 9.30 a.m. 
and then advanced to a point East of Morgemont Wood. At 10.50 
the Brigade moved down into the Luce valley and crossing 
the river at Demuin passed shortly afterwards through the infantry. 

The Canadian Cavalry Brigade was now fighting in and about 
Beaucourt, and the 7 th Cavalry Brigade took Cayeux Wood at the 
gallop, rounding up over 200 prisoners and taking several machine 
guns. The taking of Cayeux Wood in the face of strong 
opposition was a brilliant piece of work and is yet another 
example of what can be done by cavalry in open warfare. 

At 1 p.m. the Royals with 4 machine guns were sent to 
support the 7th Cavalry Brigade. " C " Battery came into 
action near Beaucourt. At 1.45 p.m. the Brigade was ordered 
to push forward towards Le Quesnel, but this order was 
cancelled, the Royals remaining with the 7th Cavalry Brigade. 
A little later the remainder of the 6th Brigade also moved 
over to the left flank. The Royals had received verbal instruc- 
tions to push forward in support of the 17th Lancers, who 
had been ordered to advance towards the Vrely — Warvillers road. 
On the arrival of the remainder of the 6th Brigade East of 
Cayeux Wood, General Seymour immediately sent on the 
10th Hussars to support the Royals, who had reached the 
Wood (E15) 1,500 yards South of Caix, but were unable 
to advance further owing to the fact that the high ground 
from Beaufort to Le Quesnel on their right and the Blue 
Line West of Beaufort were strongly held by the enemy. The 
10th Hussars were also unable to advance, but patrols were sent 

103 



THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE 

1 9 1 8 forward and arrangements made for the regiment to work round 
on the left flank. It was now about 4 p.m. and the cavalry were 
on the Blue Line, having advanced some 14 kilometres since they 
had crossed what that morning were the front line trenches. 

About this time General Seymour was obliged by illness to 
hand over his command to Lieut. -Colonel F. H. D. C. Whitmore, 
C.M.G., D.S.O. (commanding the 10th Royal Hussars), and 
Captain R. C. Gordon Canning, M.C., took over command of the 
10th Royal Hussars. Captain D. E. Wallace, M.C., was Brigade 
Major and Captain G. Babington Staff Captain throughout these 
and all operations until 20th October. 

At 5.30 p.m. orders were received from the Division that the 
6th, 7th and Canadian Cavalry Brigades were to hold the Amiens 
Outer Defences (i.e., the Blue Line) for the night. The 6th Cavalry 
Brigade took over the sector of these defences from a point East 
of Ei 5 Wood to the Northern edge of Le Quesnel. " C " Battery 
covered the exits from Beaufort. The line consisted of a series 
of old trenches organised into posts, and these the Division held 
in conjunction with Canadian infantry. The enemy still held Le 
Quesnel and the high ground round it. They also occupied 
Beaufort and kept the valley West of E15 Wood under continual 
machine gun fire. The led horses were in consequence moved on to 
the Western slope of the valley. 

Throughout the night Colonel Whitmore had to reckon with 
the probability of an enemy counter-attack. At 8.30 p.m. the 
Royals in the corner of E15 Wood were heavily shelled. The 
enemy on several occasions were reported to be massing and S.O.S. 
signals were noticed on the flanks. The night, however, passed 
off comparatively quietly and early on 9th August orders were 
received for the whole Division to concentrate along the river 
between Caix and Cayeux. Arrangements with regard to the 
relief were made direct with the Canadian infantry, who asked 
that the Royals and Machine Gun Squadron should remain in 

104 



Map to illustrate operations of 6th C avalry Brigade on August 8th— ioth, 191 8. 




= front line morning of August 8th before the attack. 
= line on which cavalry were to pass through infantry. 
= final objective of cavalry to be exploited East if possible 



1 9 1 8 



THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE 

position for the present in order to support an attack which was 191 8 
to be made at 10 a.m. About 9 a.m. the enemy suddenly began 
to shell the valley West of E15 Wood, killing a number of led 
horses and inflicting considerable casualties on the men, especially 
among the 3rd Dragoon Guards, who were in process of relief. 

By noon the Brigade (less the Royals and Machine Gun 
Squadron) was concentrated midway between Caix and Cayeux, 
Brigade headquarters being in a German bath-house. The Royals 
and Machine Gun Squadron rejoined about 1.30 p.m. 

At 3.40 a.m. on 10th August the Brigade received orders to 
take over patrols of the 2nd Cavalry Division on the front Bouchoir 
— Rouvroy, and to move forward at 5.30 a.m. "C" Squadron 
(3rd Dragoon Guards) and " A " Squadron (Royals) went on 
in advance at 5 a.m. and took over these patrols, the remainder 
of the Brigade moving up shortly afterwards to a point about 
a mile North-west of Warvillers. The 4th Canadian Division 
and the 32nd Division were to attack at 10 a.m. and cavalry 
patrols were ordered to keep in close touch. At 10.30 a.m., 
as the infantry attack was reported to have made progress, 
the 3rd Dragoon Guards and the Royals were ordered to move 
up in support of their advance squadrons, the remainder of 
the Brigade moving up near Beaufort. Encouraging accounts 
of the infantry advance were received, and Parvillers was 
reported captured. This information subsequently proved to 
be most inaccurate. At 12.30 Brigade headquarters moved 
forward to the Warvillers — Folies road, and two officers' patrols 
from the 10th Hussars were sent forward to reconnoitre the ground 
for a cavalry advance. About 1.30 p.m. Parvillers was reported 
to be still strongly held by the enemy and the infantry unable 
to advance. 

Shortly afterwards a Company of Whippets arrived under 
command of Major R. A. West, D.S.O., M.C.* (formerly a 
* Major R. A. West was posthumously awarded the V.C. for magnificent work 
which he did with the Tanks a few days later. 

105 



THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE 

1 9 1 8 squadron leader of the North Somerset Yeomanry) and an attack 
on Parvillers by the Tanks, in conjunction with the Royals and 
3rd Dragoon Guards, was planned. The ground, however, was 
reported to be totally unsuitable for the use of cavalry. It was 
part of the old Somme battlefield fought over by the French in 19 16, 
and was covered by a maze of old trenches, wire and shell holes. 
The Royals also reported that any advance over a country 
so entrenched and wired would be extremely difficult. The Tank 
commander, after further reconnaissance, came to the conclusion that 
the ground would be unsuitable even for Whippets, and the attack 
was therefore abandoned, the Tanks being recalled. 

At 2.30 p.m. a message was received that the Canadian Cavalry 
Brigade was to pass through and seize the high ground North-west 
of Roye, and the 6th Cavalry Brigade was to be prepared to act 
in support. The Canadian Cavalry Brigade went forward about 
5 p.m. and shortly afterwards the 10th Hussars were sent up in 
support. A troop of the Fort Garry Horse tried to gallop Hill 100 
on the main Roye road. The ground on either side being impass- 
able for cavalry, they were obliged to charge along the road, but 
never reached their objective. 

At 6.15 Brigade Headquarters moved up to some old 
trenches just West of Le Quesnoy, and the Royals, Battery and 
Machine Gun Squadron closed up on the 10th Hussars one mile 
South-west of Le Quesnoy. The 3rd Dragoon Guards were already 
beyond Le Quesnoy. 

Damery and Parvillers were still being obstinately held by the 
enemy, and orders were received that no further advance would be 
made that night. At 8 p.m. Brigade headquarters was heavily 
shelled, with casualties to the men and seven officers' chargers. One 
of Captain Wallace's chargers in its fright jumped clean over all 
four traces between the leaders and centres of a moving gun team. 
At 8.30 p.m. the Brigade moved back, and an hour later was 
concentrated West of Folies, where it bivouacked in the open fields. 

106 



THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE 

During the night, bombing by hostile aircraft was incessant, but 1918 
fortunately there were no casualties. 

Throughout the 10th the 6th C.F.A. were the furthest advanced 
medical unit on the Amiens — Roye road, and many infantry casualties 
were evacuated. After the Canadian mounted attack on Hill 100, 
a medical officer and bearers brought in several wounded who were 
reported to be still lying out. 

At 5.30 p.m. on 1 ith August, the Brigade moved Westwards, 
keeping South of the main Roye road, and arrived in bivouac at 
Fouencamps shortly after midnight. 

During these operations Lieutenant G. H. Perrett (10th 
Hussars) was killed, Lieutenant T. Robinson (10th Hussars) and 
Lieutenant A. W. G. Windham, M.C. (6th Machine Gun Squadron) 
were wounded. Three men were killed, 34 were wounded and 
2 missing. 

On 13th August the Commander-in-Chief visited Fouencamps 
and saw all units in the Brigade. 

■ On 15th August Lieut. -Colonel Ewing Paterson, D.S.O. 
(6th Inniskilling Dragoons) assumed command of the Brigade, and 
the same evening the Brigade moved by night to the Le Mesge 
area, arriving about 4 a.m. and remained there a few days. 

About midnight on 21st August the Brigade moved to 
the Montrelet-Fieffes area, and were in readiness to support an 
attack by the 4th and 6th Corps between Moyenville and Beaucourt. 
This was the opening of the series of battles which regained the 
whole of the old Somme battlefield. The Brigade remained on three 
hours' notice during the next three days. The heat was intense. 

During the night 2 5th-z6th the Brigade marched to Gueschart, 
and the following night moved to Nuncq, remaining on three hours' 
notice. During the next few days there were many orders and 
counter-orders. Finally the 10th Hussars with 4 machine guns 
left the Brigade area for Wailly (3 miles South of Arras). The 
Brigade remained on short notice. 

107 



THE ALLIED OFFENSIVE 

1 91 8 The outstanding feature of this period was the continued 

advance of our troops towards the Hindenburg Line and the 
breaking of the Queant-Drocourt switch by the Canadian Corps 
during the first few days of September (see Map 15 facing 
page 118). In this latter attack the 10th Hussars were to 
have taken part and moved up to near Arras for this purpose. 
They formed part of an Independent Force (under Brigadier- 
General R. Bruntinel, C.M.G., D.S.O.) which was divided 
into three groups, the leading group being commanded by 
Colonel Whitmore and consisting of the 10th Hussars, the Canadian 
Light Horse, Motor machine guns, Field artillery, and a section 
of the 6th Machine Gun Squadron. As soon as the Queant- 
Drocourt switch had been taken, the Independent Force was to move 
forward, preceded by a box barrage, and seize the canal crossings at 
Marquion and the high ground East of the village. At zero, plus 
3 hours and 20 minutes (08.20 hrs.) Colonel Whitmore's force 
moved off. Impassable ground on either side confined mounted 
troops to the road till well East of Vis-en-Artois. At 9.10 a.m. 
Captain the Earl of Airlie, M.C. (commanding the leading squadron 
of the 10th Hussars) reported that his patrols could get no further 
owing to machine gun fire; and that the armoured cars were unable 
to advance owing to strong resistance. Trench mortars were then 
brought into action, but with little effect. It was not until our 
attack developed further South that the enemy was forced to give 
up his position on this sector. The 10th Hussars rejoined the 
Brigade on 5th September. 

The following day the Brigade moved to Vieil Hesdin, St. 
Georges, and Wail. On 1 6th September the Brigade moved into 
Hesdin preparatory to taking part in cavalry manoeuvres, in which 
it was engaged throughout the following day, billeting the night 
near Doullens. On 1 8th September the Brigade moved back to Vieil 
Hesdin, and next day marched into the Rebreuve — Frevent area. 

108 



CHAPTER XIII. 



HONNECHY 

ON 25th September the Brigade began a series of three 191 8 
night marches, travelling through Bus-les-Artois and 
Meaulte, and arriving at Hem (near Peronne) early 
on the 28th. On the afternoon of 29th September 
the Brigade marched through Peronne and Doingt 
to Vermand. The three regiments bivouacked in the fields 
along the road from Vermand to Bihucourt. There was a high 
wind with drenching rain all night, and there was practically no 
shelter of any kind. 

Early that morning the 4th Army attacked the Hindenburg 
Line on a front of 12 miles from Holnon to Vendhuile. Opposite 
Bellenglise the 46th Division with life belts and rafts crossed the 
canal and stormed the village. Magny-la-Fosse was also taken, 
and the Le Tronquoy tunnel reached. To the North the 
2nd American Corps, aided by the Australians, took Nauroy, 
Bellicourt and Guillemont Farm (see Map 9 facing page 68). 

Throughout the 30th the Brigade stood-to at short notice, and 
on 1 st October moved up to Bellenglise in readiness to go forward. 
Joncourt, Levergies and the Le Tronquoy tunnel had been captured 
that morning and a considerable breach had been made in the 
Hindenburg Line. Early on 3rd October the Brigade was again 
in assembly position South-west of Bellenglise. Le Catelet, 
Sequehart, Montbrehain, and Ramiecourt had been taken by the 
4th Army, but the situation was not clear, and about 1 p.m. an 
officer's patrol under Lieutenant J. B. Bickersteth (Royals) was sent 
forward to gain information. It was found that our troops 
had been driven back out of Montbrehain, but that Ramie- 
court was still in our hands. Acting on this information 
the Brigade moved up to Magny-la-Fosse and a little later was 
ordered to move forward and seize the high ground near Brancourt- 

109 



HONNECHY 

191 8 le-Grand. At 4.45 p.m. the 3rd Dragoon Guards reached the 
Ramiecourt-Le Vergies road (near the hamlet of Preselles), the 
remainder of the Brigade being near Joncourt (see Map 9 facing 
page 68). The enemy were in strength on the high ground round 
Montbrehain, and the 3rd Dragoon Guards were heavily shelled. 
They had two men killed and 13 wounded. A number of horses 
were also killed. The Machine Gun Squadron and one section 
" C " Battery (under Lieutenant Hutchins) engaged the enemy 
round Montbrehain. 

It was now almost dark. At 8 p.m. the 3rd Dragoon Guards 
(less one squadron which had been left to keep in touch with the 
infantry in the line) and the Royals were put at the disposal of the 
46th Division, who expected a strong enemy counter-attack. Later 
in the evening the whole Brigade (less the advance squadron of the 
3rd Dragoon Guards) concentrated North of Pontruet. Night 
bombing by the enemy was very severe. One bomb fell on a 
company of 100 or more German prisoners who happened at that 
moment to be only a short distance from the head of the Brigade 
column, and killed more than half of the party outright. 

Early on 4th October the advance squadron reported that 
Montbrehain and adjoining high ground was still held by enemy 
machine guns. The Brigade remained North of Pontruet and the 
next day moved to Trefcon. Lieutenant H. C. Soundy (6th Innis - 
killing Dragoons) here joined Brigade headquarters as A.D.C. 

During the following two days Montbrehain and Beaurevoir 
were captured and the enemy forced to withdraw from the Hinden- 
burg Line at La Terriere and to the North. 

On the 8th October the 3rd and 4th Armies attacked on a 
front which extended from Sequehart to the South of Cambrai. 
At V45 a - m - that morning the Brigade marched from Trefcon 
to a concentration area near Magny-la-Fosse (see Map 9 facing 
page 68). From 10 a.m. till noon the Brigade moved by 
successive bounds to the valley 2,000 yards North-east of 

1 10 



Map Co illustrate 

7 



advance of 6th Cavalry Brigade on 9 th October, 1., ■ - 




HONNECHY 

Estrees. Our infantry were then in and beyond Serain and 191 
Fremont, and several regiments of the 1st Cavalry Division 
were also engaged. About dusk the Brigade moved back to 
near Magny-la-Fosse. Brigade headquarters was established in 
a room in the famous Hindenburg Tunnel, which links up Belli- 
court, Nauroy, Magny-la-Fosse and Le Tronquoy by a vast 
subterranean system. The tunnel, which resembled a large under- 
ground town, was provided with a light railway (with sidings) and 
was Jit by electricity throughout. The four Germans who 
managed the two electric light plants were captured at the same time 
as the tunnel and were obliged to continue working for the British. 
They pretended for several days that one of the electric plants was 
mined, but on the engine being started up in the presence of one 
British officer (the tunnel having first been cleared of all troops for 
safety) this proved to be false. 

Night bombing by the enemy was again very severe. No 
fires could be lighted after dark and throughout these operations 
it was. impossible to arrange for the men to have any hot meals either 
when starting before dawn or on arrival in bivouac after sundown. 
Infantry " cookers " would have been invaluable. 

At 1.50 a.m. on 9th October, orders were received for the 
Brigade to concentrate by 7 a.m. near Geneve. This entailed 
moving in the dark over country covered with wire and trenches. 
On arriving at Geneve General Paterson and Captain Wallace went 
on to a conference at advanced divisional Headquarters, and at 
8.35 a.m. the Brigade was ordered to move forward at the 
trot, as our infantry were reported East of Maretz and touch 
had been lost with the enemy. The Royals acted as advance 
guard to the Brigade and were ordered to move immediately, 
keeping parallel to and South of the main Le Cateau road, the 
10th Hussars to follow the Rovals with one squadron as right flank 
guard. The Canadian Cavalry Brigade was on the left. The 
Brigade moved at a fast pace to Maretz, and there came under fire 

in 



HONNECHY 

1 9 1 8 from the direction of Honnechy and Escaufourt. " C " Squadron 
(Royals) (Captain W. P. Browne, M.C.) was ordered to push on 
if possible towards Honnechy and Maurois. This squadron 
reached the quarry near the railway on the Western outskirts of 
Honnechy. Lieutenant J. F. Houstoun-Boswall with his scouts 
pushed forward to a house in the railway fork South-west of the 
village. The enemy were occupying the hedges and orchards on 
the edge of Honnechy, and also the high ground to the South. 

While making a personal reconnaissance about 11.30 a.m., 
General Paterson met the Brigade Major of the Infantry Brigade 
which had advanced East of Maretz and was now being held up 
by the enemy in and around Honnechy. The latter said that the 
infantry were exhausted and that in view of the strong forces 
opposed to them it was not intended to advance further that day. 
About noon a conference was held between Major-General Harman 
commanding the 3rd Cavalry Division, and the G.Os.C. 6th and 
Canadian Cavalry Brigades. It appeared that the Canadian Cavalry 
Brigade was held up and could not advance further, unless Honnechy 
and Reumont were captured. It was therefore decided that the 
6th Cavalry Brigade should take these villages as soon as possible, 
and then seize the high ground West of Le Cateau. The Innis- 
killing Dragoons from the 7th Cavalry Brigade were placed at the 
disposal of General Paterson and orders were issued for the attack 
to take place at 2 p.m. 

The general idea of the operations was that the Royals should 
make a mounted attack on Honnechy and Maurois from the West 
and from the positions already held by that regiment. The 10th 
Hussars were to follow in support of the Royals and advance as the 
attack progressed. The 3rd Dragoon Guards were to advance from 
the North of Busigny and attack Honnechy from the South-west. 
The Inniskilling Dragoons were to follow in support of the 3rd 
Dragoon Guards and form a defensive flank facing Escaufourt and 
Bois Proyart. " C " Battery was to take up a position South-east of 

112 



HONNECHY 

Maretz and fire on the South-western outskirts of Honnechy, while 191 8 
our troops were advancing. The 6th Machine Gun Squadron was 
to cover the advance of the Royals and 3rd Dragoon Guards and 
keep down the enemy's fire from Honnechy. 

The attack of the Royals and 3rd Dragoon Guards began 
simultaneously. As each unit advanced heavy H.E. and machine 
gun fire was opened on them. A large number of enemy aircraft 
also suddenly appeared and coming down to a low altitude followed 
the attacking troops with bombs and machine gun fire. 

The Royals almost at once came to a deep railway cutting which 
was not marked on the map and had to swing northwards, cross the 
railway further up and gallop round the northern edge of Maurois. 
They arrived at a farm on the Le Cateau road midway between 
Maurois and Reumont. Reumont was still held and enemy machine 
guns were firing straight down the road from the village at a range 
of, about 400 yards. Captain Browne's Squadron, which was still 
leading, suffered some casualties in trying to cross. Colonel 
Wormald decided to get his regiment across the road slightly further 
back and then seize the high ground South-east of Reumont. This 
operation was carried out with signal success, and the Royals gained 
the ridge, forcing the enemy to retire out of Reumont. 

Meanwhile, the 3rd Dragoon Guards advanced from North of 
Busigny. Captain N. K. Worthington's Squadron which was 
leading at once came under heavy enfilade fire from the direction 
of Escaufourt and Bois Proyart. The going was fairly good but 
the ground was cut up by numerous small ditches. There was one 
wide brook with a bad take-off, but not a single horse refused. 
Fortunately the ground was free of wire. As each squadron came 
to the railway embankment it had to close in to pass under the 
bridge by which the railway crossed the road. Tt was here that 
most of the casualties occurred. The squadrons then opened out 
again and made the final o-allop towards Honnechy (which was taken 
about 2.30 p.m.) afterwards occupving the orchards to the East of 

JI 3 



HONNECHY 

1 91 8 the village. The orchards were soon heavily shelled, and Colonel 
Rome was wounded. 

This mounted attack by the Royals and 3rd Dragoon Guards 
was carried out with great dash and skill. The bursting H.E., the 
rattle of the machine gun fire both from the ground and from the 
air, the explosion of the bombs dropped from the aeroplanes — all 
contributed to make the noise absolutely deafening. 

As the two regiments advanced through the infantry the latter 
rose as one man and advanced with a great cheer, forgetting their 
former weariness and following in close support:. This successful 
attack enabled the Canadian Cavalry Brigade on the North of the Le 
Cateau road to advance and capture several hundred prisoners, about 
seventy machine guns, and several guns and trench mortars. 

Enemy fire had now increased in volume, and Honnechy and 
all positions held by the Brigade were under continuous shelling. 
The Brigade suffered considerable casualties both in men and horses, 
especially the 3rd Dragoon Guards, who had also lost heavily during 
their advance. From the position gained considerable forces of 
the enemy, with a line of machine guns backed by several field 
guns, could be seen occupying the ridge which just hid Le Cateau 
from view. At this time the only troops in hand were one 
squadron of the 10th Hussars holding the Eastern edge of 
Honnechy, and half the Machine Gun Squadron who were 
with them. At 5 p.m. verbal orders were given to Colonel 
YYormald and Colonel Whitmore to push on as soon as possible. 
A few minutes later, however, orders were received from the 3rd 
Cavalry Division that the 7th Cavalry Brigade was to seize the final 
objective, the 6th Cavalry Brigade remaining in close support. The 
Inniskillings who had been ordered to push on towards Le Cateau 
were therefore diverted to the 7th Cavalry Brigade, less one squadron, 
which remained on the right flank. 

A line of posts and machine guns was then established from 
Honnechy to Reumont, both inclusive. Heavy machine gun fire 

114 



HONNECHY 

continued from East of Reumont, and there was considerable 191 8 
shelling with H.E. and Blue Cross. A low-flying aeroplane 
succeeded in dropping two bombs on a squadron of the 10th Hussars 
and on a troop of the Royals, which wounded four officers. The 
same bombs killed and. wounded a number of men and killed many 
horses. Brigade headquarters was established in the farm on the Le 
Cateau road between Reumont and Maurois. The 6th C.F.A. 
opened a large dressing station at Maretz during the afternoon, 
where many sick and wounded civilians were treated and fed as 
well as the ordinary casualties. 

Meanwhile the Canadian Cavalry Brigade on the left had 
reached Troisvilles and the high ground to the East of it with one 
squadron at Rambourlieux Farm, the 7th Cavalry Brigade being 
in touch with them to the South. It was now dark and no further 
progress could be made. The 1 8th Corps Cyclists came up and 
took over the outpost line, the Royals then being in support, and 
the 3rd Dragoon Guards, 10th Hussars, and 7th Dragoon Guards 
in reserve. Except for intermittent shelling, the night passed 
quietly. 

At 5 a.m. on 10th October, the Brigade concentrated in the 
valley between Reumont and Troisvilles and got into touch with 
7th Cavalry Brigade, who were near Rambourlieux Farm. At 
8 a.m. the Brigade moved up to the East of Troisvilles in closer 
support, moving back in the early afternoon to its former position 
to make room for the 7th Cavalry Brigade, who were being shelled. 
" C " Battery R.H.A. came under orders of C.R.H.A., and took 
part in the barrage during the infantry attack at 5 p.m., rejoining 
in the evening. One direct hit mortally wounded Lieutenant B. 
McLachlan, M.C., killed two men, wounded three, and damaged 
14 wheels so badly that they were unfit for further use. During 
the afternoon the Brigade moved back to Montigny and went into 
bivouac outside the village. On 1 1 th October the Brigade moved 
to Elincourt, where all men and horses were under cover. 

"5 



HONNECHY 

191 8 The casualties were: — 3rd Dragoon Guards: Lieutenant V. 

Oakley-Brown (killed), Lieutenant E. A. L. Kittle (died of wounds), 
Lieut.-Colonel C L. Rome, D.S.O., Captain H. P. Holt, Lieutenant 
B. H. Osmaston (wounded); other ranks, 2 killed, 27 wounded. 
The Royal Dragoons : Other ranks, 4 killed, 29 wounded. 
10th Hussars: Captain W. S. Murland, Lieutenant F. C. Drake, 
M.C., Lieutenant S. A. Ralli, Lieutenant S. J. Tufnell (Essex 
Yeomanry, attached 10th Hussars), Lieutenant W. Ritchie (Essex- 
Yeomanry, attached 10th Hussars) wounded; other ranks, 7 killed. 
« C " Battery R.H.A. : Lieutenant B. McLachlan, M.C. (killed), 
Lieutenant A. Bontor (wounded); other ranks, 1 killed, 4 wounded. 
6th Machine Gun Squadron : Lieutenant H. N. Ellis (killed); other 
ranks, 3 killed. The 3rd Dragoon Guards lost 90 horses, the Royals 
34, and the 10th Hussars 106. 

On 13 th October the Brigade marched across country to 
Banteux on the canal De l'Escaut. The village was totally destroyed 
and all ranks were in the open. The following day the Brigade 
marched to Hennois Wood, Manancourt and Etricourt. The men 
were in huts and all horses picketed out. The desolation of this 
devastated area was appalling. Hardly a house was standing in 
any of the villages and the land was covered with rank grass and 
cut up by endless trenches and belts of rusty wire. 

By a curious chance the grave of Captain C. R. Tidswell 
(Royals), who had left the regiment in 1 9 1 9 to join the R.F.C. and 
had been missing for many months, was found clearly marked on 
the hillside near the huts occupied by his old regiment. 

During the next few days the Brigade was occupied in re-fitting, 
and mounted reinforcements arrived. 

The Germans continued to retreat steadily along the whole 
front. Ostend, Lille and Douai fell in one day. 

On 20th October Captain E. A. Fielden, M.C, returned from 
Cambridge and again assumed the duties of Brigade Major, Cnptnin 
D. E. Wallace, M.C, becoming Staff Captain. 

116 




CHAPTER XIV. 



THE ARMISTICE 

N 6th November the Brigade marched through Havrin- r ^ r 8 
court to Marquion, and the following day to Esquerchin 
1(2 miles West of Douai). Heavy rain fell throughout 
these two days. On 8 th November the march was 
continued to Peronne — Louvil — Fretin (about 6 miles 
South-east of Lille). 

That morning our troops had occupied the Western part of 
Tournai and had crossed the Scheldt South of Antoing. On 
9th November the Germans were retreating along the whole front 
of the five British armies. 

On 10th November the Brigade marched to Bachy, and later 
in the morning crossed the Belgian frontier and reached Rumes 
about 4 miles South-west of Tournai. It was here that news of 
the German Emperor's flight to Holland was first received. At 
3 p.m. the Brigade marched through the Southern outskirts of 
Tournai, crossed the Scheldt at Vaulx-le-Tournai, and stayed the 
night at Gaurain-Ramcroix. 

At 6 a.m. on 11th November, General Paterson and Captain 
Fielden attended a conference at Divisional headquarters at Antoing, 
and at 8.15 a.m. the Brigade concentrated at the nth mile- 
stone on the Tournai — Leuze road. A quarter of an hour later the 
Brigade moved forward as advance guard to the 3rd Cavalry 
Division with objective Enghien — Steenkerque. The Royals were 
in front as advance guard to the Brigade with the line Ath — Chievres 
as first objective. The 10th Hussars who were patrolling towards 
Enghien and Steenkerque were in contact with the enemy about 
11.30 a.m. North of Silly, and it is certain that the whole Brigade 
would have been in action by noon. 

About 10 a.m. the head of the main body had just reached the 
centre of the town of Leuze, when it was overtaken by a cavalry 

117 



TO 



THE ARMISTICE 

1918 corps car, in which was a staff officer, who handed the following- 
official telegram to General Paterson : — 

( 1st Cav Div 
I 3rd Cav Div 

GC 303 1 1 

Hostilities will cease at 1 1 00 today Novi 1 aaa troops 
will stand fast on position reached at hour named aaa 
line of outposts will be established and reported to 
Corps HQ aaa remainder of troops will be collected 
and organised ready to meet any demand aaa all 
military precautions will be preserved and there will 
be no communication with enemy aaa further 
instructions will be issued aaa acknowledge 

From Cav Corps 

Place 

Time 08.10 G. Reynolds, Major 

The Brigade dismounted and messages were at once sent to 
the Royals and to all patrols repeating this telegram and ordering 
them to stand fast where they were. At 1 1 a.m. the actual 
hour when hostilities ceased, an impromptu ceremony took place 
in the market square of Leuze. An infantry battalion (a London 
Regiment) with its band happened to be there. Mounted men 
were summoned from each of the units present with the Brigade, 
and these formed three sides of a square, the infantry the fourth. 
In the centre of the square were the Mayor of Leuze, the G.O.C. 
6th Cavalry Brigade, the band and the regimental trumpeters. The 
market place was full of civilians, and every window and door was 
crowded. As the last stroke of 11.0 died away, the trumpeters 
sounded " Stand Fast " and " Cease Fire," and then as the infantry 

118 



THE ARMISTICE 

presented arms, the band played "God Save the King," followed 191 
by the Belgian and French national anthems. It was a memorable 
and intensely moving scene. 

The Brigade remained on the outskirts of Leuze till the after- 
noon, and then marched back to Gaurain Ramcroix, moving the 
following day about three miles South-east to the Ponenche area. 

The next four days were spent in a thorough clean-up. One 
squadron (10th Hussars) joined Headquarters Cavalry Corps, as 
escort to the Corps Commander, and one troop (^rd Dragoon 
Guards) joined Headquarters 3rd Cavalry Division as escort to 
Major General A. E. W. Harman, D.S.O. 

Maps were now issued showing the Zones allotted to the 
Allied Armies in their advance through Belgium into Germany 
and marking the various Lines which must be free of all German 
troops by a certain date. 



119 



CHAPTER XV. 



THE BREAK-UP OF THE BRIGADE 



O 



19 1 8 ^0 ~^^ N 17th November, in accordance with the terms of 
the Armistice, the Brigade began its march East- 
wards into Belgium. All bridges and important cross 
roads as well as miles of railway track were found 
prepared for demolition, and the Field Troop R.E. which 
was attached to the Brigade during the march was kept busy. 
The first night was spent in an area about 3 miles West of Enghien. 
The Royals held a line of outposts immediately on the outskirts of 
the town. 

The main road from Leuze to Enghien presented a most extra- 
ordinary sight. Literally thousands of Belgian and French civilians, 
who had been deported from their homes by the Germans and were 
now at last set free, were making their way westwards on foot. 
The hand-carts and barrows on which they carried their few 
belongings were covered with the flags of the Allies. Every now 
and again the people, tired but happy, stopped and cheered the 
troops. Among the civilians were scores of liberated British 
prisoners. They were dressed in such an assortment of ragged 
garments that it was difficult to recognise them. Many were ill 
and nearly all of them were hungry. A system was devised by 
which motor ambulances moving with the mounted troops carried 
extra rations, and the men were properly fed and passed back from 
one headquarters to another. 

On 1 8th November the Brigade marched through Enghien and 
was billeted at Saintes, Tubise, Quenast. On 20th November, at 
the request of the Burgermestre for assistance, one troop (Royals) 
was sent forward to Hal to quell disturbances. The civilian 
population had been mobbing persons who were considered guilty 
of pro-German sympathies during the enemy occupation. 

120 



THE BREAK-UP OF THE BRIGADE 

On 2 1 st November the Brigade marched across the field of 191 
Waterloo. 

On this very ground over one hundred years before The Royal 
Dragoons had taken part in the famous charge of the Union Brigade. 
They were then brigaded under General Sir William Ponsonby with 
the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) and the 6th (Inniskilling) 
Dragoons. At about 1.30 p.m. on 1 8 th June, 1815, D'Erlon's 
brigade of 20,000 men had made an overwhelming attack, as a result 
of which a Belgian brigade had been completely scattered, the 
supporting British infantry broken, and many guns captured. The 
whole Allied position was thus endangered, and at this critical 
moment the Union Brigade was ordered to charge. The three 
regiments deployed into line, halted to allow the broken infantry 
to retire through them, and swept forward in an irresistible charge. 
The French columns were dispersed in all directions. " Every- 
" where the Royals, Greys and Inniskillings were to be seen 
" trampling down and sabring the fugitives." 

The night of 21st November the Brigade billeted in the area 
round Ottignies, moving on the following day to Eghezee. Both 
here and in the Ottignies area guards were left to take over German 
material which had been left in accordance with the Armistice terms. 
The following material was found in Ottignies station and sidings 
alone: — 22 locomotives, ^8 passenger coaches, 390 trucks contain- 
ing ammunition, coal and wood, 76 empty trucks, 5 new aeroplanes 
packed on trucks. At Eghezee on the 23rd November over 
50 guns of all calibres and many trench mortars were handed over 
personally by a German officer to Brigade headquarters. 

In every village and town throughout the advance the Brigade 
was received with the greatest enthusiasm by the Belgian population. 
Their genuine pleasure at the sight of British troops after four 
years of German occupation was shown by the crowds of cheering 
people who lined the roads, by the triumphal arches, bands, speeches 

121 



THE BREAK-UP OF THE BRIGADE 

191 8 and official receptions, and by an intense desire to do everything to 
make the troops comfortable. 

On 24th November " A " Squadron (Royals) (Captain 
E. W. T. Miles, M.C.) marched to Namur and took over 
guards from the nth Hussars, one troop being billeted on the top 
of the citadel. The same day the Brigade moved a few miles South, 
Brigade headquarters being at Upigny. The Royals were billeted 
a few miles from Namur near three enormous Zeppelin hangars, 
from which several of the air raids on London had started during 
the earlier part of the war. 

Owing to the great difficulties of transport only the 2nd Army 
(to which was attached the 1st Cavalry Division) advanced into 
Germany. The 4th Army (to which the 2nd and 3rd Cavalry 
Divisions were attached) remained in Belgium. The Brigade 
remained in the Upigny area until 12th December, when it marched 
eastwards and staying one night in the neighbourhood of Vinalmont 
moved the following day into permanent winter billets about ten 
miles West of Liege. 

Brigade Headquarters (including the 6th Signal Troop and the 
13th M.V.S.) were at Stockay, the 3rd Dragoon Guards at St. 
Georges, The Royal Dragoons at Jehay, the 10th Royal Hussars 
at Seraing-le-Chateau, " C " Battery R.H.A. at Awirs, the 6th 
Machine Gun Squadron at Amay, the 6th C.F.iV. at La Mallieue. 

1 919 In the latter part of December demobilisation began, and 
during the month of January proceeded at the average rate of 
2 officers and 40 other ranks a day. 

At the end of January all horses were classified, and during 
February " C " and " Y " horses were sent to England and " Z " 
horses were disposed of at local sales at Liege and Huy. Only 
" X " horses, which were those selected for the Army of Occupation 
and officers' chargers, remained. Meanwhile, demobilisation con- 
tinued fairly steadily, till there were only just sufficient men left to 
look after the horses. 

122 



THE BREAK-UP OF THE BRIGADE 

Units now began to make preparations to leave the Brigade 1919 
for their various destinations, and on the departure of each regiment 
those who still remained turned out to wish the officers and men who 
were leaving farewell and good luck. 

On 7th March the 3rd Dragoon Guards (Lieut. -Colonel C. L. 
Rome, D.S.O.) which had been reduced to Cadre " A " strength, 
proceeded by lorry to the cadre area near Verviers. A tew weeks 
later they returned to Tidworth, preparatory to going abroad the 
following autumn. 

A few days later it was definitely decided that the Royals and 
the 10th Hussars were to form part of the Army of the Rhine. 

On 14th March the 10th Royal Hussars (Lieut.-Colonel 
F. H. D. C. YVhitmore, C.M.G., D.S.O.) started on their march 
into Germany. 

Meanwhile " C " Battery R.H.A. (Major D. Scott, M.C.) had 
already been reduced to Cadre "A" strength, and was now under 
orders of C. R.H.A. awaiting transportation to England. The 
6th Machine Gun Squadron (Major J. C. Humfrey, M.C.) was in 
process of being broken up, all retainable men being sent to machine 
gun squadrons in Germany. The 6th C.F.A. (Lieut.-Colonel C. H. 
Stringer, D.S.O.) was being reduced to cadre under the orders of 
the A.D.M.S., and the 6th Signal Troop and the 13th M.V.S. were 
also being gradually brought down to minimum strength. 

On 1 8th March The Royal Dragoons (Lieut.-Colonel F. W. 
Wormald, D.S.O.) left the area and began a trek of several days to 
Cologne. 

General Paterson issued a Special Order of the Day to each 
unit before it left the Brigade, thanking officers, N.C.O.s and men 
for their splendid work and wishing them good luck. In the 
course of a letter given to those men who were returning to civil 
life, he wrote : " You have the satisfaction of knowing that you 
" have served your country well and that whatever your military rank 
" and standing may have been, your efforts have really helped to 

123 



THE BREAK-UP OF THE BRIGADE 

1 9 19 "bring about the defeat of the Germans. As a civilian you will 
" find yourself confronted by many perplexing problems. Keep a 
" level head and play the game in peace as admirably as you have 
" played it in war." 

Finally, Brigade headquarters itself, which no longer had any 
troops to administer, was reduced to cadre. Captain Wallace had 
already left the Brigade and General Paterson and his A.D.C. now 
returned to England. The only officers who remained for a time 
were Captain E. A. Fielden, M.C. (10th Hussars) and Captain C. J. 
Tindell-Green (R.A.S.C). 

By 20th March, 19 19, the 6th Cavalry Brigade had ceased 
to exist. 

Few who had been with the Brigade any length of time 
witnessed its complete dispersal without regret. The relief that 
hostilities had ceased did not detract from the feeling of genuine 
sorrow that the time had come for many good friends to part. In the 
vicissitudes of four and a half years of war men learn to know and 
valu? each other, and many friendships are formed. With the pros- 
pect of peace came a more vivid understanding how great was the 
sacrifice of those countless friends who would never return. As unit 
after unit left the Brigade for their various destinations, there were 
many, both officers and men, who realised that a memorable chapter 
in their lives had at last drawn to a close. But whatever the personal 
feelings of each might be, there was satisfaction in knowing that the 
6th Cavalry Brigade (from the day of its formation on Salisbury 
Plain in 19 14 to the day of its final break-up in the neighbourhood 
of Liege in 19 19) had not only played a part worthy of the famous 
regiments which had served in it, but had also under conditions which 
called for patience, adaptability and courage upheld the highest 
traditions of the British Cavalry. 



124 



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54.6 History of the 6th 

.54. Cavalry Brigade 
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